SEBRING — Youthful Sebring impressively battled back to forge a 10-10 tie at halftime against visiting Cleveland John Adams but the Rebels responded with a big third quarter and went on to defeat the Trojans 40-22 in a non-conference girls basketball game in the Sebring gym Monday evening.
“We’re extremely young,” said Sebring head coach Anthony Agresta. “We’re young in this sense, too, in that even the girls that played last year — you know, there were two girls on the team that were stellar and were dominant with the ball — and there are things that happen out there in a basketball game that you can’t script in practice [for first-time varsity players] — and that just comes with a little playing time.”
Sebring, which returned just two starters and has many first-time varsity players from last winter, saw its record fall to 0-2 with the setback, while the Rebels remained unbeaten at 2-0.
The Sebring-John Adams game was a late addition to the schedule for both teams.
“This game wasn’t really on our schedule this year,” said Agresta. “Jackson-Milton didn’t have a program this year and then Our Lady of the Elms didn’t have a program and we found that out late, so all the teams on their schedules were scrambling, calling each other [to find replacement games] and I felt like we needed to play. They [the Rebels] have many more kids than we do, but that doesn’t even matter at this point because our girls need to play.”
John Adams coach Daniel Hubbard, whose team led 10-3 after one quarter but watched Sebring outscore the Rebels 7-0 in the second stanza, was pleased with his squad’s strong performance in the second half. That included a 17-2 run in the third quarter, which enabled the visitors to take a 27-12 advantage entering the fourth quarter and go on to the 18-point win.
“Being 2-0 is a good start but we’ve got some tough teams in the conference [the Cleveland Senate League] that we need to be ready for and Sebring gave us a good look,” said Hubbard, whose team whipped Cleveland Rhodes 49-9 in its season opener last week. “They [the Trojans] are a disciplined squad and I appreciate them taking us for this game. If they want to play again next year, I’d be more than happy to play them again.”
“They [the Rebels] are super fast and super athletic and when the game got a little crazy [in the third quarter] that’s where they kind of took control,” said Agresta.
Sebring was led by junior standout center Blake Thomas, who finished with a team-high 11 points and 14 rebounds, while teammate Raegan Wynn added six points — all in the second half.
“Blake just plays hard,” said Agresta, “and I like what I saw from Raegan Wynn in the fourth quarter.”
Taking game-scoring honors was Meaghan Patterson of John Adams with 19 points, while Nyla Miller added 11 markers.
“[Patterson] is a junior and super aggressive,” said Hubbard. “She’s a very good basketball player. The whole starting five played super hard. We had a rough second quarter but in the third quarter we came out firing on all cylinders and working hard. They listened to what we said at halftime, so I’m happy with them.”
Agresta said getting more game experience will help his Sebring team as it advances through the season.
“You know John Wooden’s old saying, ‘you’ve got to play fast, but you can’t feel like you’re in a hurry,’ and that’s kind of where we get lost sometimes,” he said. “We’ll get in spurts where we get an 8-0 or 10-0 run on us, and all of the sudden we’re out of the game. But you know what, the team is working real hard and we are young.
"I’m also excited because we actually have a junior high program, which we haven’t had, so we’re trying to get this where it needs to be. They keep playing hard with good attitudes and they’re willing to take a little coaching — you know, the old guy fusses at them a little bit, but they responded to it tonight, especially some of the young kids.”
Sebring opens Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference play Wednesday evening hosting the Mineral Ridge Rams.
“The whole league is new to me,” said Agresta. “I’m having to do my homework.”
This article originally appeared on The Alliance Review: Sebring McKinley girls basketball plays Cleveland John Adams