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Sees, Avon power past De Smet

Avon's Lauren Sees, right, puts up a layup as De Smet's Kristen Poppen, left, tries to defend her during a prep girls basketball game on Saturday at the Hanson Classic at the Corn Palace. (Eric Mayer / Republic)

In a defensive slugfest, Avon's Lauren Sees rose to the occasion.

Sees helped kickstart the Pirate offense, after Avon was held to just one point in the first quarter. The 5-foot-9 junior finished with a game-high 24 points as Avon knocked off No. 2 De Smet 41-32 at the 35th Annual Girls Hanson Classic on Saturday at the Corn Palace.

"I love her confidence. She stepped up and hit some big shots," Avon head coach Brad Poppe said about Sees. "She put us on her back for a bit."

Trailing 5-1 after the first quarter, back-to-back field goals by Sees gave Avon its first advantage at 8-5 early in the second quarter. The Pirates scored 14 points in the second quarter, while holding the Bulldogs to five points for the quarter.

De Smet (8-2) had a woeful shooting night, going 20 percent from the field (8-of-39) and 50 percent from the free-throw line (12-of-24).

"We didn't execute anything offensively all night," De Smet head coach Doug Osthus said. "(Avon is) a good basketball team but you have to play better than that against good basketball teams. We needed to get better looks at the basket, we just didn't do it."

Leading 15-10 at halftime, Avon weathered an 8-0 run by De Smet, which put the Bulldogs back in front 18-17. The two teams would each exchange a field goal and a free throw before Sees drilled one of her 3-pointers to help Avon hold a 26-21 lead at the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Avon scored the first five points run to build a 10-point margin. De Smet came within seven points midway through the final frame, but Sees answered with another 3-pointer.

"We had too many breakdowns on her," Othus said about Sees. "That's what led to her big game. You can't give her good looks."

Alongside Sees, Cheylee Nagel tossed in nine points, while Livi Jurrens pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds and added four points. For De Smet, Autumn Wilkinson led with 15 points, while Rynn Osthus and Kristen Poppen each added six points. The Pirates won the rebounding battle 37-25 and Poppe had nothing but praise for his team's defensive effort.

"Defensively, I was really proud of the girls," Poppe said. "Everything we talked about all week, they did a great job executing. I have to give the girls a lot of credit."

Since suffering back-to-back losses to Hartington Cedar Catholic (Neb.) and Hanson on Dec. 14 and Dec. 18, respectively, Avon has strung together six straight wins. Poppe said his team still needs to improve offensively, but added he likes the direction the Pirates are headed.

"It was a great test," Poppe said. "The tougher the schedule, the more ready we should be come tournament time. That's all you can do."

Avon takes on Mitchell Christian on Tuesday in Avon, while De Smet will face another tough test when the Bulldogs host Hamlin on Tuesday in De Smet.

D 5 10 21 32

A 1 15 26 41


De Smet (8-2): Autumn Wilkinson 15, Rynn Osthus 6, Kristen Poppen 6, Raegen Burke 5.

Avon (8-2): Lauren Sees 24, Cheylee Nagel 9, Livi Jurrens 4, Kacie Mudder 2, Madisyn Cameron 2.