Cougars defeated in home, regular season finale by Avon

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GREENFIELD — In the regular-season finale against Avon, Greenfield-Central head coach Bradley Key didn’t base his team’s performance from tip-off to final buzzer.

He based it from Nov. 7 to Jan. 30.

On Senior Night, Greenfield-Central lost 50-44 to Avon, finishing the regular-season with a 10-12 record, an identical mark to the victorious Orioles.

“From the beginning of the year to right now, we’ve got so much better,” Key said. “That’s a team that has the eighth strongest schedule in the state. They are a huge school for us to compete with. Early this year I’m not sure that would have happened. So I am really proud of our girls. We’ve gotten a lot better as a team.”

Key’s Cougars more than competed. They had the bigger, stronger Orioles on the ropes.

Greenfield-Central led much of the first half, out-rebounding Avon 15-9 in the first two periods and leading at the half 26-21.

The second half was a different story. Avon’s 5-foot-11 junior Haley Nichols had 17 of her 19 game-high points in the final two periods. Alex Richard, a 6-1 junior, had eight of her 12 in the third quarter. The Orioles won the battle of the boards 20-9 in the second half.

Still, the score was tied 44-44 until Nichols’ scored off an offensive rebound with 2:35 to play. She added another lay-in at the one-minute mark for a four-point Avon advantage. A turnover led to Avon’s final bucket as it ended the game on a 6-0 run.

“I felt in the first half we did a good job of trying to take away the inside to the best of our ability. They’re 6-1 and 5-11 and they’re much stronger than we are,” Key said. “We did a better job in the first half. The second half it really hurt us.

“They had a lot of second chances. We would do a great job defending and they would take a shot that we wanted them to shoot. They would miss, but their girls were getting it and getting easy buckets.”

The Cougars did some good things against the bigger team, which is good practice for the sectional opener at Richmond on Wednesday against a tall Pendleton Heights. The Arabians defeated the Cougars 52-37 on Nov. 22 in Pendleton.

“I felt like this was a great game to have heading into the sectional,” Greenfield-Central senior Hannah Farrell said. “They really challenged us on the boards and I think this will definitely get us ready for Pendleton, which is the ultimate goal.”

Farrell and classmates Crystal Peterson and Olivia DeJarnett were recognized prior to the game. All three were in the starting lineup.

Farrell led Greenfield-Central scorers with 16 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Peterson and junior Brooke Herrell — the finisher on at least half of the Cougars 16 fastbreak points — scored 10 each.

We did a good job of running the floor tonight. Against a team like that you’re going to have to get out and run,” Key added.

Peterson had seven of her points in the third quarter. She kept the Cougars in the game in a period they were outscored 19-9. Seventeen of the Orioles points came from post players Nichols and Richard.

Off the bench, Cougar frosh Brianna McConnell got the team off to a good start with a pair of 3-point field goals. Greenfield-Central led 12-5 at the end of the first period.

Greenfield-Central had won eight of 10 prior to ending the season on a three-game losing skid. Along with Thursday’s loss against Avon, the Cougars dropped a game to Class 4A No. 8 Mt. Vernon and a 17-win team in Class 3A Yorktown.

“Pendleton (Heights) is big and aggressive and it’s going to take everything we have,” Key added. “They have three players scoring in double figures. It’s going to be a challenge. We’ve gotten better and we’re looking forward to a second opportunity to play them.”