AVON, March 8, 2011 – Sometimes, when the season comes to abrupt end, it can be hard to see what you accomplished along the way.
The regular season ended with a 18-point loss to Bacon Academy, which finished with its first undefeated regular season in 12 years. After a six-point win over Granby in the quarterfinals of the NCCC Tournament, East Granby outlasted the Falcons, 46-44 to keep Avon out of the tournament championship for the first time since 1999.
And in Avon’s first game in the Class L tournament, Masuk High grabbed an early 12-2 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a 48-33 second round victory at Avon High.
There were tears and some long faces when it was over for the Falcons. But it wasn’t a lost season.
Avon went 15-1 in the NCCC and won 10th league championship in the last 12 years. They were 17-3 in the regular season. The biggest win was probably a 39-37 victory over defending Class LL champion Norwich Free Academy when senior Emily Jordan sank a 10-footer at the buzzer for the victory.
“It was a good season,” Avon coach Frank Waters said. “Winning the league championship is certainly something to be proud of.”
Avon had hoped to be competitive with Masuk, who scored just 19 points in a loss to Pomperaug in the Southwest Conference semifinals. It was the second lowest offensive output in Hall of Fame coach Dave Strong’s tenure that began in 1976.
The Panthers (16-7) were a bit better in a 40-34 decision over Windsor in the first round of the Class L tournament but the Falcons thought they had enough offensive firepower to play with Masuk. “We felt if we played a good zone defense that would be the right way to go,” Waters said.
Avon senior Kiera Givens scored the first basket of the game to give the Falcons a quick 2-0 lead. But Masuk scored 14 of the game’s next 16 points to seize control. Emily Antenucci and Michelle Wu each drained a three-point goal, Victoria Schiebe hit a jumper, Wu had a nice fadeaway jumper and Brooke Butkovsky drove hard to the basket to give the Panthers a 12-2 lead.
Givens hit another jumper but Butkovsky responded seconds later with a layup and a 14-4 advantage. Avon finished with just six points in the first quarter and 10 in the first half. They trailed 22-10 at halftime.
Masuk outrebounded the Falcons and were much more efficient offensively. “That was probably the best game we’ve played all year,” Strong said. “Our defense has been pretty good. Today, we had some offense, too.”
Wu finished with a game-high 16 points while Butkovsky added 15 for the Panthers. Avon was led by Givens with 13 and Caroline Jadovich with 11 points.
The Falcons struggled shooting the ball, sinking just 12 of 52 shots while Masuk shot 57 percent from the floor. And when Avon missed, Masuk frequently controlled the rebounds.
“We don’t have overwhelming talent,” Strong said. “Our formula is tough defense and patience on offense. We worked on taking a good shot. We tend to rush. If you have a good shot, one of teammates probably has a better one.”
Avon (18-6) tried to rally. They switched to a more aggressive man-to-man defense. It helped fuel a 7-2 surge that cut the lead to nine points with 4:50 left in the third quarter.
The rally began with Jadovich scoring under the basket off a nice feed from Givens. After an Avon steal, Anna Schrecengost scored on a fast break and after a Masuk turnover, Givens scored on a baseline jumper. A steal by Jenna Donahue led to a three-point shot by Jadovich to trim the lead to 28-19. But Masuk outscored Avon in the final 4:50 of the quarter by a 6-2 margin to extend the lead back to 13. A three-point shot from Wu and a baseline jumper to open the fourth quarter iced the game for the visitors.
“I’m proud of the effort our kids gave,” Waters said. “They worked hard and didn’t roll over and go through the motions.”
Senior Emily Jordan finished with two points, six rebounds and five steals. Senior Maggie Hartman had two points in her final game.
“All three seniors (Jordan, Hartman, Givens) left everything they had on the basketball court,” Waters said. “They played with the urgency seniors need to play with and I was proud of that.”
In the NCCC Tournament, Jadovich had 20 points in a 46-43 loss to Suffield in the tournament consolation game. Suffield led by one in the final minute and extended it to three with a pair of foul shots with eight seconds remaining.
Masuk 48, Avon 33
Masuk (16-7) Victoria Schiebe 0-0-0, Kelly Zazuri 1-0-2, Jamie Madden 0-0-0, Diana Antenucci 0-0-0, Kelsey Kovachik 3-0-6, Michelle Wu 5-4-16, Brooke Butkovsky 7-1-15, Emily Antenucci 2-1-5, Melissa Peet 2-0-4, Lauren Maile 0-0-0. Totals 20-5-48
Avon (18-6) Caroline Jadovich 4-2-11, Alana Pulling 0-0-0, Caroline Schaefer 0-1-1, Maggie Hartman 0-2-2, Julia Schrecengost 0-0-0, Kiera Givens 5-3-13, Emily Jordan 1-0-2, Chelsea Foster 1-0-2, Anna Schrecengost 1-0-2, Jenna Donahue 0-0-0. Totals 12-8-33
Masuk 14-8-13-13 – 48
Avon 6-4-12-11 – 33
Three-point shots: Wu (M) 2, Antenucci (M), Jadovich (A) 1