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Defensive pressure carries Avonworth past Frazier in first round

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Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Frazier's Caleb Cox goes airborne as he drives to the hoop against Avonworth's Christopher O'Malley (right) during a WPIAL Class AA playoff game Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at Chartiers-Houston.
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Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 11:09 p.m.
 

The Frazier boys basketball team had a solid season, but Wednesday, the Commodores ran into an Avonworth team that was on top of all aspects of its game. The Antelopes shot extremely well, played in-your-face defense, used speed in transition off turnovers and were strong on the glass.

All of that added up to an 80-43 Avonworth victory in a WPIAL Class AA first-round game at Chartiers-Houston.

“They created a lot off of our turnovers,” Frazier coach Ed Keebler said. “We just couldn't overcome that.”

The Antelopes (17-5) started strong and never looked back.

Early in the game, Avonworth's press forced the Commodores (15-8) into some tough situations, and the Antelopes capitalized on miscues to take a 20-7 lead.

Then in the second quarter, Avonworth's Garrett Day displayed his shooting prowess by knocking down three 3-pointers to help Avonworth take a commanding 44-20 lead into the half.

Avonworth received consistent scoring from a number of players throughout the lineup. Eric Gallupe led the Antelopes with 15 points, followed by 14 points from Day and 13 points from Jamal Hughley.

“Tonight was our night,” said Avonworth coach Dan Bradley, who also was hired as Ambridge's football coach Wednesday night. “Defensively, we got after them and we shot the ball well. When you play good defense, you create opportunities.”

Things didn't get any better for Frazier in the second half as Avonworth continued to press and get results. Frazier continued to turn the ball over, and the Commodores gave themselves no chance of mounting a second-half comeback.

“We couldn't get anything started,” Keebler said. “It was tenacious defense on their part. A lot of our turnovers were right in front of our own rim.”

Frazier's offensive production obviously wasn't up to par. Caleb Cox and Charles Manack led the Commodores with 10 points apiece.

It was a disappointing way for the Commodores to end the season. However, it was a season that had its share of highlights.

“I was happy with the way we played throughout the year,” Keebler said. “We had some stumbling blocks, but the kids worked hard. I'm proud of all the kids.”

Avonworth will play third-seeded Aliquippa in a quarterfinal game Saturday at a site and time to be determined.

Jason Black is a local sports editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jblack@tribweb.com.

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