PLAINFIELD — The Plainfield Quakers and Avon Orioles boys’ basketball teams closed out the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with their joint season opening on Saturday night as the visiting Orioles jumped out to a double digit lead in the first half and rolled on to a 72-48 win over the Quakers.
Both sides showed some opening night anxiety in a turnover plagued first quarter. However, Avon sophomore reserve guard Jack McCue popped a 3-pointer late in the period and initiated the start of a 20-3 surge for the Orioles, an outburst that proved decisive for Avon.
Avon coach Jason Young was happy to see the Orioles take a positive performance from their opening victory.
“Overall, I was really pleased,” Young said. “Our effort was there ... from where we were last week going to Martinsville in the scrimmage, we showed great improvement.”
Meanwhile, Plainfield coach Andy Weaver got a baseline check on his squad as the Quakers continue to seek upward momentum in building their program.
“Avon’s pressure on the half court really got to us,” Weaver said. “We had way too many turnovers, and that got us in a deficit. We had five straight possessions where we didn’t get a shot. (For that), you had to tip your hand to Avon and coach Young.”
The Avon bench, paced by McCue, played a big role in creating the scoring gap. The Orioles’ bench produced 17 of their 36 first half points, a 17-2 scoring advantage from backups. That bench scoring provided 15 of the 16 points that Avon held as a halftime lead (36-20). By the end, the Avon bench delivered 26 points.
“Those guys that checked in — Sam Bloom, Andrew Short, Jimmy Simms, and Jack McCue — gave us a huge lift,” Young said. “They made some baskets and applied some good ball pressure. When you can play nine or 10 guys, it’s a huge asset.”
On the Plainfield side, 13 first half turnovers damaged the Quakers’ chances of staying close. Especially notable to Weaver was the fact that leading returning scorer Max Kurkowski had just seven shot attempts all night, indicative of the strong defensive work delivered by Avon senior guard David Griffith.
“The way Kurkowski shoots the ball for us, we have to get him more than seven shots,” Weaver said. “(Avon) had Griffith on him the whole night, but we have to do a better job to find him shots.”
Young found his team has a solid base of returning experience in the starting lineup, but can find depth out of a youthful cast of reserves.
While McCue was the leading scorer at the break with 13 points, it was the inside starting trio of Brandon Peters (15 points), Conner Funkhouser (12 points), and Logan White that carried the offensive load to finish out the win. White and Funkhouser commanded the boards as both had game-highs of nine rebounds.
“We challenged the starters to come out in third quarter, and got a good push from them in the second half,” Young said. “In the first half, Plainfield was able to outrebound us, but we did a much better job in the second half of blocking out.”
Weaver did have positives to pull from the night. Senior center Bobby Jensen led Plainfield with 14 points and six rebounds. Freshman Nathan Mills made a promising first high school appearance with 12, while Kurkowski hit 5 of 7 shots to get his 11.
“This is a team that, if it will stay the course, will continue to get better as the season progresses,” Weaver said. “Our expectations are to get better for the next game. I think some good things can happen for this basketball team.”
Both teams return to action on their home courts Friday night. Plainfield will begin Mid-State Conference play with a girls’/boys’ doubleheader against Whiteland. To the north, Avon will entertain county rival Danville for its first home game of the season.