Aurora -- It was a season of improvement for the Aurora girls varsity basketball squad, which captured its first tournament victory in years.
Aurora finished 16-8 overall and third at 5-5 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division behind Chagrin Falls and Kenston, which tied for first place.
"The most enjoyable thing for me this season was just seeing improvement," coach Erika Schultz said. "We had a couple of injuries we had to deal with, and it was great to see other girls step up and rise to the occasion.
"Our team was very dedicated," Schultz said. "The girls worked hard every day at practice to improve their game. These girls were very passionate about the game and improving their skills."
Schultz said the strength of the team was playing experience. "We had six seniors and three juniors on varsity who brought a lot of experience and leadership with them," she said.
The seniors are Camilla Brown, Alexa DeBoard, Maddie Gilley, Allison Howard, Danielle Lasky and Erin McNamara. The juniors are Kali Bachman, Liz Domeck and Hanna Garnek.
"This is a very special senior class," Schultz said. "Not too many programs have six seniors stick with things and play together all the way through, so that was very special."
On top of that, Aurora notched a tournament victory. The coach said the win was the first in her five seasons at the helm, and apparently the first in many years.
It occurred Feb. 21 when the Greenmen defeated Boardman, 45-35, in a Division I sectional game at Akron Ellet High. Aurora built a 16-point advantage in the third quarter and never lost the lead the remainder of the game.
"We played well," Schultz said. "It was exciting to finally win a tournament game."
BROWN LED the squad with 14 points, while Howard added 13, McNamara had 7 points, Lasky 5 and Garnek 4.
Aurora's season came to an end Feb. 28 in the Division I tourney with a 72-29 loss to two-time defending state champion Twinsburg. Brown led the way with 14 points, Howard scored 8, McNamara 4 and Lasky 3.
"Twinsburg was a rough game for us," Schultz said. "They are just so incredibly talented. I was proud of how our girls fought and never gave up. We held with them for a while, but they just took over and we couldn't recover."
Brown led the team in scoring with 294 points, averaging 14.7 a game, while Howard had 261 points (13.1 average). Other top scorers were McNamara at 5.8 a game, DeBoard at 5.6, Lasky at 5.2, Gilley at 5.1 and Garnek at 4.4.
"We had a great inside game this year," Schultz said.
Howard led the squad with 163 rebounds, averaging 8.2 a game, while Brown had 128 (6.5) and McNamara had 111 (5.5).
Lasky was the team leader in assists with 63 (3.2 a game), followed by Howard with 56 (2.8) and McNamara with 40 (2.5). Brown had 86 blocked shots, a whopping 4.3 a game.
"Brown is one of the best shot blockers in Northeast Ohio," Schultz said. "She uses her length to her advantage and reads the ball well."
Schultz said the emphasis for next season is to get even better. "We need everyone to commit to working hard this summer and improving their game," she said. "We are also going to need leadership since we are graduating so many seniors."
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