Last meeting: Eagles earned a 58-51 victory over the Mikes at home on Jan. 10 to take control in Section 3-A. Kenna Drazich had 15 points on seven-of-nine shooting, and Avella outscored Carmichaels, 13-6, in the third quarter. Morgan Berardi had a game-high 24 points for Carmichaels.
Coaches: Avella is coached by Jim Matalik, Carmichaels by Jim Lane.
Last time out: Avella beat Jefferson-Morgan, 43-39, on Monday. Olivia English had 16 points to lead the Eagles.
Carmichaels is coming off a 55-45 win at California the same night. Morgan Berardi had 12 points, 11 assists and five steals. Amanda Brown scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
About the Eagles: Avella is extremely well-balanced, led by English (15.0 ppg), a senior center who's also averaging 10.7 rebounds and four steals per game.
Avella is certainly not going to out-flash anyone, but the Eagles are consistent and play a good team game. They also defend well (36.4 points per game allowed in section games).
About California: Watch Berardi. She's one of the area's best and makes things happen; a triple-double is possible on most nights. A 1,000-point scorer, she's usually a lock for 20 or more points (average: 18.3 ppg). Amanda Brown (14.0 ppg) is a dominant center and has no problem pulling down double-digit rebounds.
Analysis: No doubt there will be a lot of emotion on both sides. Carmichaels suffered an obvious letdown in the first game between these two and will be eager to prove it belongs in first place, even if that means a tie at 7-1.
The Eagles haven't blown anyone out, but they are 7-0 in section play, a point that should not be overlooked.
I'm expecting Carmichaels to play a more uptempo game -- something that obviously would favor the Mikes over the more reserved Eagles. But if Avella can turn this into a game of half-court sets and defense, I think they'll come out on the better end.
Having not seen Avella yet, I don't feel completely comfortable making a pick here, though I like a desperate team playing at home this time of year. (Read: Carmichaels in a close one)
Regardless, should make for perhaps our best girls basketball game of the season. Obviously the most impactful one so far. See you out there.