By Justin Whitaker
AVON — The Avon girls’ basketball team had its chances last night, but its inexperience caught up with them.
With only a senior and junior on the roster, the young Orioles fell to the Southport Cardinals, 62-53.
Avon coach David Cupp starts two freshmen and knows that this season he is metaphorically feeding his young players to the wolves.
“Part of me feels guilty for throwing freshman out there in this environment because they are not ready. So hopefully things like this we learn from,” he said. “Tomorrow we are going to watch the last five minutes of this game and break it down.”
A Hannah Eiler layup and Rachel Griffin free throw on back-to-back possessions cut the Cardinals’ lead to 46-50 with 3:30 remaining.
But the inexperience affected Avon as Southport went on an 8-2 run to put the game out of reach.
“We got it within four late but we just don’t know how to get those four points,” Cupp said. “We are just young.”
Sophomore Brooke Peters led the Orioles with team-highs of 13 points and 16 rebounds. The sophomore was all over the court snatching rebounds and drawing fouls.
After playing in three varsity games as a freshman, Peters has worked herself to be one of Cupp’s preferred players.
“She is my all-time favorite kid that I’ve ever coached. She gives everything that she’s got to me, wants to win and wants to be really good,” Cupp said. “She’s a bulldog, she’s a competitor and she’ll bite your face off, but in a good way. She wants to win. I was really proud of her tonight.”
Freshman Taylor Speckman had 10 points and Shelle Daniels and Megan Price each contributed eight.
Southport jumped out to a 13-4 lead by making its first six shots.
Avon dug themselves a deeper hole with eight first quarter turnovers but the Cardinals went cold as they would miss seven of their next eight shots.
“Turnovers are going to be something that get us all year, especially against teams that are stronger and they physically were bigger and stronger and that hurt us,” Cupp said.
A Daniels layup brought the Orioles to within five at the end of the first quarter, 15-10.
The start of the next quarter was again friendly to Southport as they made its first four shots and led, 23-13.
“I don’t think that they were running great offense, we just weren’t really quick off the ball,” Cupp said. “Our help side wasn’t where it needed to be.”
Price, a senior, responded with five of Avon’s next seven points to cut the lead to 25-20.
“We have stretches where we aren’t very good and stretches where we look really good,” Cupp said. “But that’s part of being young.”
Southport led 31-22 at halftime on 52 percent shooting. Avon shot 43 percent but had 15 first half turnovers.
It was Avon’s third losses of the season, but after averaging 30.5 points in their first two games, they are making progress.
“We are going to struggle to score but it was nice that we got out and ran a little bit to try and use our youth and our athleticism,” Cupp said.