Antelopes clinch at least a tie for 1st

School's previous boys section championship was 40 years ago

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Classes resumed late Wednesday morning at Avonworth High School after the cold weather forced a two-hour delay. Later, the Antelopes ended a delay that had lasted 40 years.

Jamal Hughley scored a career-high 18 points as host Avonworth clinched at least a share of its first section title since 1974 with a 57-48 win against Quaker Valley.

"I'm glad I wasn't the coach here for 40 years. That's a long time," said Avonworth coach Dan Bradley, who is in his fifth season.

By defeating Quaker Valley for the second time this season, Avonworth (14-3) improved to 10-0 in Class AA Section 6, giving the Antelopes a bit of a cushion over the second-place Quakers (16-2, 7-2). With two section games left, the worst the Antelopes can finish is 10-2.

In front of a packed gym, Avonworth used a 10-0 fourth-quarter run to build a sizeable advantage. Soon after, its students rushed the court to celebrate.

After Quaker Valley's Qadir Taylor scored to cut the deficit to 46-44 with 3:39 left, Avonworth took command in a hurry. Josh Drwal started the decisive run with a basket and, after Hughley scored on a layup with 54 seconds left, the Antelopes held a 56-44 lead. The Quakers made only three field goals in the fourth quarter.

"We were playing from behind, so we took some chances. To their credit, they made all the right decisions the last four minutes of the game," Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said.

Hughley, a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward, was a force inside for the Antelopes. He scored 10 consecutive Avonworth points in the first quarter, was 8 for 8 from the free-throw line, and added 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

"Coach told us over and over that tonight's the night," Hughley said. "We're here on our home turf and we had to defend it."

Eric Gallupe had 14 points and Adam Joyce 10 for Avonworth. Jesse Zubik came off the bench to score six consecutive points to begin the fourth quarter.

Taylor finished with a team-high 16 points for Quaker Valley, which was held to a season low in points.

Avonworth led by as many as seven points in the first quarter, but Quaker Valley dominated the second, outscoring the Antelopes, 20-8, to take a 29-22 halftime lead. Avonworth went on a 13-2 run at the start of the third quarter to go ahead, 35-31, then took the lead for good when Hughley made two free throws to make it 40-39.

The victory was another big step for Avonworth, which a year ago earned its first playoff berth since 2001. The program has gone through some rough years, including winning just six games combined in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

"We've worked hard here the last five years," Bradley said. "The guys have played a lot of ball. We have guys with good basketball heads and IQ's. It's paying off."

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