Avarone returns as Cats top Cougars

HAMLET — Jesse Avarone returned to form for Oregon-Davis Wednesday, and the Lady Cats were glad to have her back.
The sophomore combo player put up a game-high 26 points with three steals and seven rebounds in her second game back with a jammed finger after seeing limited action in a game in Chicago Saturday, and her performance helped lift the Class A No. 4 Cats to a 69-56 victory over visiting New Prairie in a weather-postponed Bi-County opener at The Den.
OD advances to play Bremen tonight in the Bi-County semifinals at 6:30 p.m. EST at LaVille.
“Obviously having Jesse back is huge for us,” said OD head coach Terry Minix. “She played in Chicago but not much, and really probably shouldn’t have been playing. She was pretty ineffective.
“She sat out against Argos. She played a little bit in Chicago because she wanted to, but she looked more like Jesse tonight.”
While Averone finished with 26, fellow sophomore and OD point guard Ashley Campbell followed close behind with 21 points while dishing out a prolific 11 assists powering the Cats’ offense. Forward Haley Collings flirted with double-double figures herself, chipping in nine rebounds to go with a career-high 16 points earned at an efficient 5-for-6 field clip and 4-for-5 stint from the line.
“Haley Collings had a heck of a game. Missed one shot, missed one free throw, and we had her for nine rebounds, so she played well,” said Minix.
“Ashley’s just Ashley, and I thought Kendra Sauer coming in and giving us the two or three minutes that she gave us was really big too.”
The two teams were neck in neck before a Campbell wing 3 keyed an 8-0 mini run midway through the first to put OD out in front for good.
The win prevented what could have been a third straight loss for the program for the first time in four seasons. Avarone’s injury coincided with back-to-back losses to Class A No. 10 Argos and Prospect, Ill. last week, and those consecutive losses were the team’s first since following up a 2010 Bi-County championship defeat to Culver Jan. 20 with another loss to the Cavaliers Jan. 22.
“That’s big for these girls. They’re young, but they understand that we don’t like to lose at all, and when we lose two games in a row, that’s not something you talk about with Lady Cats basketball,” said Minix. “I think they really grew up a little bit tonight and decided, hey, we want to go out and win something. Beating New Prairie, I think New Prairie was a heck of a team. (New Prairie coach) Dan (Shead) does a great job with them, so I’m greatly happy to come out with a win. We played good, but we can play a lot better than that.”
The Bobcats now face Bremen, which beat Argos by a hefty 54-38 margin Tuesday in the Dragons’ first game following their 63-44 defeat of OD sans Avarone last Thursday.
“We don’t know a lot about Bremen because we don’t play them during the year,” Minix said. “We’ve got some game film we’ll be watching tomorrow, but we’ll see. The big thing, and I always say it, is we’ll worry about what we do, and if we take care of the ball and not have 20-something turnovers and play good defense, we’re going to be fine. He’s got a good team, they obviously handled Argos pretty easily, and it’s going to be a test for us over there, but I’m just going to worry about what our kids do, and hopefully we can come out with a ‘W’.”
The Lady Cats JV forfeited its game with New Prairie in the JV opening round Monday.
At Hamlet (Bi-County 1st round)
Score by quarters
NP: 12 23 42 56
OD: 20 34 57 69
NEW PRAIRIE (56): Lexi Buford 0 0-0 0, Courtney Spencer 1 0-0 3, Alyssia Smith 0 0-0 0, Sam Emerick 8 3-4 20, Paige Thompson 0 0-0 0, Madison Cody 0 2-2 2, Brooke Kresca 4 3-4 11, Katie Buford 4 0-0 9, Kelsey Prestin 4 3-3 11, MacKenzie Behm-Stavely 0 0-0 0; Totals: 21 11-13 56.
OREGON-DAVIS (69): Katie Schwenk 3 0-1 6, Ashley Campbell 9 0-1 21, Alicia McIntosh 0 0-0 0, Jesse Avarone 10 3-8 26, Haley Collings 5 4-5 16, Ali Stout 0 0-0 0, Kendra Sauer 1 0-0 2, Ashley Clark 0 0-0 0, Lincy Jones 0 0-0 0; Totals: 28 7-15 69.
3-point goals: New Prairie 3 (Spencer, Emerick, K. Buford), Oregon-Davis 6 (Campbell 3, Avarone 3); Turnovers: New Prairie 21, Oregon-Davis 20; Rebounds: New Prairie 33 (Cody 5, K. Buford 5, Emerick 5), Oregon-Davis 34 (Collings 9); Steals: New Prairie 9 (Emerick 6), Oregon-Davis 11 (Avarone 3, Collings 3); Assists: New Prairie 10 (Emerick 5), Oregon-Davis 15 (Campbell 11); Fouls (fouled out): New Prairie 14 (none), Oregon-Davis 12 (none).
Records: Oregon-Davis 13-4, New Prairie 7-9.