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Chester County Press

Avon Grove defeats Kennett in hoop tussle, 53-47

02/08/2022 02:33PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw                    Avon Grove’s Aiden Violette drives the lane in the third quarter of the Red Devils’ 53-47 victory over Kennett on Feb. 5.

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

At first glance, the overall records of the Kennett and Avon Grove’s varsity basketball teams coming into their Feb. 5 game (3-11 and 5-14, respectively) may have deceived some in attendance into believing that they were about to see two teams merely playing out the string of a challenging season for both.

For those who expected lethargy and apathy, they were instead treated to a back-and-forth slugfest that ended in Avon Grove narrowly escaping with a 53-47 victory.

From opening tip-off, the operative for both teams was to establish momentum and maintain it, but after two early buckets by Kalen Frazier gave Kennett a quick 4-0 lead, Avon Grove tied the score on an alley-oop from Stephen Beheler to Jason Bozman and went ahead on a jumper from the key by Tyler Arnold with 5:30 left in the quarter. A few possessions later, the Red Devils jumped to a 13-7 lead on a full-court pass from Tyler Gilick to Arnold, but Kennett stormed back on a three-pointer by Ryan McCoy and a tip-in by Kharee Brunson at the end of the quarter that whittled Avon Grove’s lead to one point, 13-12.

An accidental tip-in by Adam Ziegler early in the second quarter was followed by his sharp pass to a driving Josh Cox on Avon Grove’s next possession, but the quarter also saw the emergence of Kennett’s Neil Rivera, who scored all six of his points in the quarter to keep his team within a bucket or two of Avon Grove. With time running down in the first half, however, the Red Devils were backed up by a three-pointer by Kyle Anthony and buckets by Ziegler and Bozman that sent Avon Grove into halftime with a 24-18 lead.

In the third quarter, Kennett outscored Avon Grove 14-13 to peck away at the Red Devil lead, led by Luke Augustine’s six points, but as Avon Grove began the fourth quarter with a slim 37-32 lead, Cox stepped forward to score eight points, including one three-pointer and three crucial free throws that extended his team’s lead, despite a frantic, last-minute defensive assault by Frazier and a three-pointer by Reagan Pelletier that cut Avon Grove’s lead to 47-43 with 58 second left in the game, and a bucket by Luke Augustine that brought Kennett to within two points with 15 seconds left in the game.

This is a resilient group and every day since I’ve been here, we have had one message, and that’s to play hard every single night – no matter the score and no matter the opponent,” said Avon Grove coach Ikeem Mays, now in his third season at the helm.

Mays spoke highly of the contributions made by Arnold, who not only scored a game-high 16 points in the victory, but served as his team’s quarterback and cheerleader.

“It’s been great having Tyler here,” he said. “He was injured all of last season, but he has been our vocal leader since he was a sophomore, and he joins a host of seniors that have also been here since they were sophomores. I know our record doesn’t say who we are, but Tyler Arnold has been a big part of what we have been able to do.”

In addition to Arnold, Avon Grove was led by Cox with 10 points, while Augustine and Pelletier each scored 11 points for the Blue Demons.

Still winless in the Ches-Mont National, Avon Grove hosted Coatesville on Feb. 8 and will host Oxford on Feb. 12. Still 3-4 in a crowded field of 3-4 teams in the Ches-Mont American, Kennett hosted Bayard Rustin on Feb. 8, will play at home against Great Valley on Feb. 10 and will close out the regular season at Downingtown East on Feb. 12.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].