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CNHI

It only took a week to top last week’s Hoosier Crossroads Conference season for the Zionsville girls’ basketball team.

The Eagles were 0-9 in league play last season, losing all but one game by double digits. After beating Lafayette Jeff on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and Avon on Saturday, Dec. 4, the Eagles have already assured that the 2010-11 season will be a step in the right direction.

Jenna Mitchell just missed a double-double on Saturday with 20 points and nine rebounds as Zionsville (4-3, 2-1) put together its most complete game of the season in a 56-48 victory over Avon (4-3, 1-2).

“I believe we got down 10 at one point but we made a great run, kept it close, and made it a good game at halftime,” Zionsville coach Andy Maguire said. “I just thought our poise was a 100 percent turnaround today. There was a lot of confidence on the floor and not only did our starters play well, but our subs came in and contributed in a lot of ways that didn’t show up on the scoresheet.”

After one quarter, things appeared to be headed the way so many have for the Eagles over the past few seasons. Avon led 17-9 after one quarter on the strength of a 13-1 run. The Eagles had eight turnovers to start, and the Orioles were eventually able to push the lead to 21-9 early in the second quarter.

That is when Zionsville seemed to turn the corner not only for this game, but as a team for the season. The Eagles calmed down, committed just one turnover in the second quarter, and used their own 13-1 run over the next five minutes to force a 22-22 tie with 1:58 left in the period.

“I thought we handled pressure much better today,” Maguire said. “We have a tendency to panic and today we didn’t panic. Today we stayed composed. We still made turnovers, but we didn’t compound our mistakes and let them turn into layups.”

Jackie Kurbursky and Alex Van Wanzeele each scored in the final two minutes of the first half for Avon to give the Orioles a 26-22 halftime lead, but the visitors did not have an answer for Mitchell, who took over in the second half.

Mitchell was virtually unstoppable for the Eagles after the halftime break. She added eight points in the third quarter, including a free throw at the 1:14 mark that gave Zionsville its first lead of the game. She then added six more in the fourth quarter as Zionsville pulled away.

“It’s kind of weird because some of her scoring happened because of foul trouble. All three of our posts had some foul trouble,” Maguire said. “We went to kind of a four out, one in set and that really opened things up for her. Our guards did a good job of getting the ball down to her.”

Nine of Mitchell’s points came from the free throw line, as she regularly worked her way there by drawing contact in the lane. She was able to foul out Avon’s leading scorer Julie Steinmetz, who finished with 14 points after a hot start.

Zionsville was also helped with 14 points from Katie Drapeau. Zionsville was 15-of-17 from the free throw line in the final period, sealing the game down the stretch.

The Lady Eagles host Westfield (7-1, 3-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10.

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