Devils outlast Blue Streaks
Mark Pinson | Highlands TodayAVON PARK - The Avon Park boys basketball team built a big lead and withstood a furious second-half rally to defeat Sebring by a score of 63-58 in the Tip-Off Classic on Friday night.
Published: November 18, 2012
Published: November 18, 2012
The Red Devils were led by Tyrone Perry's 20 points and Michael Rhoden added 16 points in the preseason win over the Blue Streaks.
"I liked our effort, but we need to play smarter," said first-year Avon Park coach Marty O'Hora. "It was a little chaotic, but this is a brand new team and they're learning a different style of basketball than we played last year.
"We don't want to be good now; we want to be good in February."
Sebring, which has a young squad, was paced by Decaris Jones' 18 points.
"I'm happy because we played hard and competed," said Blue Streak coach Princeton Harris. "I'm not worried about wins and losses right now and we'll look at the film from the game and correct our mistakes.
"We've only got two seniors and we had three freshmen playing in this game. We fought through adversity and battled back, and we're going work on getting better and be ready to go for the next game."
Avon Park came out energized and jumped out to a quick lead as Perry nailed a 3-pointer and a pair of jump shots. Sebring struggled from the floor and the Red Devils took advantage by racing out to a 21-11 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Blue Streaks hung tough and began to whittle down the Avon Park lead with solid outside shooting and strong inside play in the second quarter.
The Red Devils got hot in the third quarter as Rhoden scored 11 points, including a 3-pointer, but Sebring answered as Jones scored nine points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull the Blue Streaks within 43-36 heading into the final eight minutes.
"We did a much better job of executing our offense in the second half," Harris said. "We didn't get down or quit after falling behind and we just need to be ready to play at the start of the game."
Sebring refused to fold and went to a full-court press which forced several Avon Park turnovers. Jones stole a pass and scored on a layup to pull the Blue Streaks within 55-52 with 1:35 remaining in the game.
But a technical foul was called on Sebring for delay of game after the ball went through the basket and the Red Devils capitalized as a pair of free throws and a layup by Recarus Burley gave Avon Park a 58-52 with 1:05 left to play.
The Blue Streaks responded with a free throw by Jones and a rebound basket by Josh Austin to make it 58-55.
Red Devil Alfred Brown made one of two free throws and Rhoden calmly drained a pair from the charity stripe for a 61-55 lead with 30.1 seconds remaining.
Sebring couldn't get the ball to fall and the clock ran out to give Avon Park a hard-fought victory.
For our first official preseason game I'm pretty pleased," O'Hora said. "We compete in practice for playing time and I'm going to play my hardest and smartest workers.
"It's a process and we'll keep evaluating things as we go through the season."
Avon Park plays Lake Region on Tuesday night before the Red Devils go on their Thanksgiving break.
Sebring is off until Nov. 29 when the Blue Streaks host Ridge Community.
"I liked what I saw in the second half," Harris said. "We got after it at both ends of the floor and it's all about competing and playing hard.
"Once we get our football players in basketball shape and work a few things out, I think we'll be competitive this season."
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