Blue Streaks torch Devils

SEBRING - The Avon Park and Sebring rivalry was on full display in Friday night's girls basketball game.

In an entertaining up-and-down affair, Sebring outlasted Avon Park by a score of 64-40 to improve to 8-1 on the season.

"It's always spirited when we play Avon Park,"said Sebring coach Mike Lee. "We've been playing good basketball and Avon Park has good athletes and played us tough.

"They are well-coached, it was a physical game and a good win for us."

The loss dropped the Class 4A Red Devils to 2-3 overall.

"The first half was our best of the season," said Avon Park coach Paulette Daley. "We knew Sebring had some seasoned players and we played them tough, but we got in foul trouble in the second half and had trouble scoring.

"We had some mental lapses and Sebring dominated the boards in the second half and that was the difference."

Sebring scored the first four points before Avon Park went on a run led by Connie Dewberry's eight points to take the lead.

The Blue Streaks roared back behind Rondaja Williams who poured in eight of her 14 points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key, to give the Blue Streaks a 13-11 lead with 2:43 remaining in the first quarter.

Avon Park answered as Toryana Jones scored four points to pull the Red Devils even at 15 heading to the second period.

Jones, who finished with a game-high 21 points, was just getting warmed up as she stole the ball and scored and buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Avon Park a 20-15 lead.

"We moved the ball and executed our offense real well in the first half," Daley said. "We took our time, looked for the open player and that's the way we need to play."

Sebring started to utilize its height advantage in the paint as Jamiese Wiley scored six of her team-high 18 points and Williams added four points.

Avon Park's Kennedea Jones scored and made a free throw to give the Red Devils a 30-28 lead at the half.

Sebring changed into a box-and-one defense to open the second half to try and take Jones out of the Avon Park offense.

The change paid off as Sebring went on a 19-4 run to take a commanding 47-34 lead into the final eight minutes.

"We switched defenses and that forced Avon Park to find someone else to score besides Jones," said Lee. "We did a much better job of boxing out on rebounds in the second half as well."

Avon Park lost a couple of players to foul trouble and Sebring worked the clock on each possession and steadily pulled away from the Red Devils for the victory.

"Avon Park hurt us and did a good job of breaking our press in the fist half," Lee said. "We did a much better job of playing defense in the second half and our size paid off in the paint with a lot of rebound baskets."

Class 5A Sebring is off this week and is back on the hardwood on Dec. 3 with an away game at DeSoto.

Avon Park is at DeSoto on Monday night and the Red Devils host Lake Wales on Tuesday.