By Justin Whitaker
DANVILLE — DANVILLE — Basketball is a game of runs and Thursday night the Tri-West Bruins did not run out of gas.
The Bruins held on to beat the Avon Orioles 57-55 in the semifinals of the Hendricks Regional Health County Basketball Tournament.
“It was a game of runs,” Tri-West coach Brad Acton said. “We got off to a good start at the beginning of the game and then they had a good start to the second quarter. Then we came out strong in the third and then midway through the third quarter they did. Both teams had some good runs and it was just a battle for 32 minutes.”
Avon inbounded the ball with 7.5 seconds remaining in the game, trailing by two. Senior Megan Price drove the length of the floor but lost the ball upon entering inside the three-point line. Price had an opening for a shot.
“Had the shot at the end, just an unfortunate bounce of the basketball,” Avon coach David Cupp said. “She did exactly what I asked her to do, to get us to the rim, and just mishandled it. I was really proud of that kid tonight.”
Both teams had 15 turnovers but Cupp felt his team’s were more troublesome.
“Because we’re young, we don’t understand the value of every possession,” he said. “We waste too many possessions. Because we turn the ball over so easily from the guard position we just don’t give ourselves a chance to win, especially in tight games. We just shot ourselves too much in the foot tonight.”
Tri-West senior Lauren DeSutter scored a game-high 28 points, including 14 in the second quarter, while playing all 32 minutes.
“You would have liked to have taken her out and given her a rest but you’ve got to have her in,” Acton said. “You’ve got to go with the kid that got you there.”
Orioles sophomore Brooke Peters and freshman Shelle Daniels each scored team-highs of 16 points.
Near the end of the third quarter, a Daniels’ free throw brought Avon within one at 42-41. But DeSutter scored on a layup to give the Bruins a 44-41 advantage to start the fourth quarter.
“I kept looking at the clock, thinking it needed to keep running,” Acton said. “We were fortunate because they cut it to one and then we came back and got a bucket. Fortunately for us, we never allowed them to get the lead. A game like that, it was a one-point game, we were able to keep the lead as slim as it was.”
The Bruins led 10-8 after the first quarter as Peters scored all eight of Avon’s points in the quarter.
“She’s always going to battle,” Cupp said. “She’s always going to give us hustle plays and things like that.”
Five Orioles then contributed 11 consecutive points to take a 19-10 advantage. During that 3:30 stretch to open the second quarter, Tri-West turned the ball over four times.
But then it only took half a minute for the Bruins to reclaim the lead.
DeSutter made a trey, the ensuing inbounds was stolen, and the senior connected on another 3-pointer. Avon immediately turned the ball over again and it was Katrina Headlee who connected on the three to give Tri-West a 20-19 lead.
“That was huge, obviously, at that time,” Acton said. “We seemed to come up with some timely shots when we needed to. It was one of those things that it happened so quick where we were down eight and to take the lead, it was huge.”
The crazy sequence followed an Acton timeout as the coach joked about taking credit for the three plays.
“I had called timeout before that and I kind of diagramed all three of those plays,” Acton said laughing. “No, basically we were getting outhustled at that point. Avon had the confidence, had the momentum, and I just thought we were standing and watching things happen instead of making things happen. Then we came back out after a timeout with a little more energy.”
The Orioles quickly took back the lead on a Taylor Speckman 3-pointer but an 8-2 run, including six points from DeSutter, gave the Bruins a 29-23 halftime lead.
Tri-West opened the second half with 10 unanswered points but Avon came roaring back.
Price scored six of the eight first points of a 15-0 run that brought the Orioles within one after a Peters’ three.
The determination of Price was instrumental in Avon’s run back into the game. The senior backed up her 19 points in the county tournament opener against Plainfield with another solid performance of nine points, four assists, and two steals.
“She was awesome,” Cupp said. “She just had a mindset that she was going to take control over this team. She was an unbelievable leader tonight and tried anything she could to win us the game.”
The Bruins now turn their attention to a rematch of last year’s county finals against Brownsburg.
“We’ve got to work on some things tonight and come up with a game plan and we’ll compete,” Acton said. “We’ll be competitive and play hard, there’s no doubt in my mind.”