Sebring cruises past Avon Park

AVON PARK - The Sebring girls basketball team overcame a slow start to earn a 55-22 victory over Avon Park on Thursday night.

The nondistrict win improved the Class 5A Blue Streaks to an impressive 12-2 on the season.

"We played well for 26 of the 32 minutes," said Sebring coach Mike Lee. "Avon Park played hard on their home court and we had a great effort on offense and defense.

"Since we lost to Lemon Bay, we've done a much better job of boxing out and we did that against Avon Park."

The loss dropped the Class 4A Red Devils to 4-7.

"We were so inconsistent and didn't do a good job of rebounding," said Avon Park coach Paulette Daley. "We played well the first quarter, but after that we didn't execute on offense, we got frustrated and made too many mistakes to beat a team as good as Sebring."

Avon Park came out strong to start the game as guard Toryana Jones used her quickness to penetrate Sebring's zone defense to score eight of her team-high 12 points.

Guard Connie Dewberry buried a 3-pointer to give the Red Devils a surprising 11-10 lead heading to the second period.

"We executed well, passed the ball and looked for the open man," said Daley. "When we stay composed and work the ball around we're a pretty good team."

Sebring came out focused for the second quarter and utilized its superior height to dominate the paint against the smaller Red Devils.

Power forward Jazmin House poured in seven of her 12 points and Christacia Dawkins and Olivia Burnett added four points apiece to give the Blue Streaks a commanding 29-16 lead at the half.

"We executed really well on offense and were able to control the boards," Lee said. "We missed some shots, but were able to get the rebounds and score inside."

The third quarter was a nightmare for the Red Devils, who went scoreless and missed several close shots to the basket while Sebring was able to score inside and off of its tenacious full-court press.

Forward Jamiese Wiley scored eight of her game-high 18 points to give the Blue Streaks a 45-16 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

"We're a young team and we just have to learn to relax," said Daley. "We get down on ourselves and we have a lot of growing up to do."

Both teams went to their benches in the final period to allow all of the girls some playing time and the Blue Streaks eased to the victory.

"This was a good win over our rivals," said Lee. "We did an excellent job of shutting down Jones after the first quarter and we had a lot of passion and energy which is always good to see."

Sebring is back in action on Monday night with an away game at Lake Region and the Blue Streaks host Clewiston on Tuesday night to close out the first half of the season.

"We have improved a lot from the start of the season," said Lee. "We have an experienced team and we challenged them to get better and be more consistent.

"This is a great group of girls who respect each other, are loyal to each other and are excellent athletes."

Avon Park hosts district rival Mulberry on Tuesday and the Red Devils close out the first half with a road game on Friday against Lake Region.

"There is a lot of basketball left to play," Daley said. "We just need to keep working hard and believe in each other and we'll be fine."