Freeport girls basketball defeats section foe Highlands

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Thursday, January 14, 2021 | 9:32 PM


It wasn’t the cleanest of games in the eyes of Freeport girls basketball coach Fred Soilis, but his team did what it needed to do Thursday evening to claim victory in its season opener.

Sophomore Ava Soilis led all scorers with a career-high 20 points, and sophomore Melaina DeZort added double-digit scoring with 10 as the Yellowjackets topped Highlands, 43-28, in a Section 1-4A contest.

“We were just happy we were able to play,” said coach Soilis, who saw his team overcome 18 turnovers to score its ninth consecutive win over the Golden Rams.

“With these games, we’re going to knock some rust off. It’s been a challenge with not just the pandemic but with obstacles we’ve had to face in our practices. We have been practicing in pods. We haven’t been able to practice together as a team. Not once. It’s hard to mimic what you want to do in a game. We’ve had a couple of scrimmages, and tonight has been their only game action.

“We did some good things (against Highlands), but we also have some things to work on. But I am proud of their effort.”

Freeport was scheduled to open Monday against Valley, but that game was postponed because the Vikings are on a covid-related pause.

The Yellowjackets turn their attention to a section matchup against rival Knoch on Monday.

Highlands, 1-3 overall and 0-2 in section, looks to get back on track Friday at West Shamokin.

Freeport led 13-11 with 3 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half. Highlands pulled to within two on a 3-pointer from Jocelyn Bielak and a free throw from Kalleigh Nerrone.

The Golden Rams then went cold offensively for the rest of the first half through the first three minutes of the third quarter.

During that stretch, Freeport scored 14 points and opened a 27-11 lead. Ava Soilis had nine of those 14 points during the stretch.

“Were struggling right now with consistency,” Golden Rams coach Courtney Udanis said.

“We had that at Mt. Pleasant (last Saturday), too. We’re right with a team, and then we don’t hit anything. We go into a drought and just can’t seem to get it back. Hopefully, we are able to get that under control and see that change in the outcome of games.”

Highlands whittled the Freeport advantage down to nine on two occasions early in the fourth quarter, but the Yellowjackets forced a couple of turnovers and pushed the lead back over double digits as the final stanza progressed.

Freeport freshman Morgan Croney made her first varsity shot count as she sank a 3-pointer to give the Yellowjackets a 3-0 lead 40 seconds into the game. She finished with six points and eight rebounds.

Junior Leah Hartman added seven rebounds for Freeport.

Highlands junior guard Maria Fabregas led her team with 10 points and eight rebounds, and junior forward Jocelyn Luzier added seven points and seven rebounds for the Golden Rams.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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