Vicenza claws Aviano from unbeaten ranks
Stars and Stripes February 11, 2011
VICENZA, Italy – Rarely in basketball does one play with more than seven minutes remaining spell the difference in a game.But that happened Friday night as the Vicenza Cougars girls basketball team clawed its way to a 47-43 victory over previously unbeaten Aviano to draw within a game of sharing the American Schools in Italy – or DODDS Europe Region IV regular-season crown – with the Saints.Aviano junior center Jasmine Mailoto, who helped the Saints win the last two of their three straight league titles, fouled out with 7 minutes, 11 seconds left to play. Aviano led 34-27.“That made my day,” said Vicenza’s Lali Baratashvili, who then proceeded to the free throw line – a space she would occupy for a large part of the final period. Baratashvili finished with a game-high 28 points – converting 11 of 14 from the free throw line in the last quarter.“I really thought, ‘we’ve got ‘em now,” Vicenza coach Michael James said of watching Mailoto leave the game. She had scored a team-high 14 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked three shots at that point.“That hurt,” Aviano coach Greg Mead said. “She was just starting to get going and we were starting to get her the ball.”Aviano, 10-1 heading into Saturday’s rematch against the Cougars, held onto its lead until the 2 minute mark, when Baratashvili – seemingly everywhere on the court – converted a basket to give Vicenza a 41-40 lead. Aviano freshman Kyerha Smith answered to give the Saints the lead again. But Baratashvili converted six straight free throws – and Aviano missed three of four – to finish the game.“I think we’ve been preparing for this game for a long time,” Baratashvili said. “And we had our hearts in it.”And the support of a raucous home crowd, which cheered every time the Cougars scored or made a big play.There wasn’t a lot of either in the first half. Aviano led 19-16, despite committing 17 of its 30 turnovers. Most came on long passes that were picked off or sailed out of bounds. Vicenza (9-2) got shot after shot, but most of them missed the mark.“They were outhustling us,” Mead said. “They were getting multiple shots every single time.”Aviano built its small lead in the third quarter as Mailoto converted a few buckets after receiving nice passes from Smith and AnnMarie McClelland – both of whom finished the game nursing injuries. Another starter, Casey Brunetti, missed the game with stomach flu.Baratashvili finished with 14 rebounds for Vicenza, while Kelsey Johnson had eight. Tatiana Miranda came off the bench to score six points. Smith had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists for Aviano, while Katlyn Ashley scored 10 and had 14 rebounds.
Aviano boys rally for winVicenza led 29-20 at halftime and 44-35 entering the final period, but Aviano rallied for a 51-48 victory.
The Cougars, 6-7 on the season, wanted to swep the Saints during their weekend series and finish ahead of them in fourth place in the ASIL. But poor free throw shooting - 13 makes in just 41 attempts - and turnovers were too much to overcome, according to coach Eric Wakefield.
Aviano (8-5) was led by Zach Erskine with 13 points and Myron McRae with 10. Gary Donald led all scorers with 20 points for the Wildcats, followed by Derek Shaffer with 13 and David Lynch with 10.
The two teams finish the regular season tomorrow before participating in the DODDS Europe Division II Tournament in Germany later this month.