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Ava JV played Fair Grove in the second round of the Fair Grove JV Tournament and came away victorious. The 37-23 win put Ava in the championship game against Buffalo on Saturday.
The Fair Grove game was a defensive battle but Ava’s full court pressure wore them down in the second half. At one point Ava had a 20-point lead, but Fair Grove made a run in the fourth quarter to cut it to 10 points.
Ava was able to buckle down defensively and came away with a 14-point victory, 37-23.
Austin Casey led all scorers with 11 points. Ben Loge and Caleb Miles had seven points each and Chase Dixon ended the game with four points. Dexter Fish had three points and Tyler Cox and Zach Bray each had a basket.
Ava JV broke away from the tournament to play Salem at home Friday night, Jan. 14, in their first SCA game of the season.
It was a defensive battle all the way with neither team having a player scoring in double figures.
Ava was down by eight points at halftime, but trimmed the margin to three points and the ball late in the game.
Trailing by three, Ava’s Casey had a 3-point shot go inside the rim before rounding out, and a costly turnover by Ava allowed the Tigers to put the game out of reach and ultimately win the contest by a 32-28 margin.
Coach Nathan Houk said, “Salem was a very quick, athletic team but our kids did a good job of defending.” Houk went on to say, “We also shot poorly against their half court zone.”
Scoring for Ava were Casey 7, Jesse Johnson 7, Chase Dixon 4, Ben Loge 4, Kevin Philpott 4 and Kody Kutz 2.
Back to Fair Grove Saturday night for the tournament championship game against Buffalo, the JV Bears faced a quick, athletic team that defended the basketball very well. The Bears came back from an 11-point halftime deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter, only to lose in overtime, 51-46.
The Bears played five games in five days, winning three and losing two.
Referring to the Buffalo game, Coach Houk said, “We settled for the outside shot and didn’t knock it down,” resulting in the double-digit halftime deficit.
In the second half, however, the Bears attacked the basket with their “press breaker” and got the ball inside. “This helped us cut the lead to 5 going into the fourth quarter,” Coach Houk said.
The Bears then switched to a diamond press in the middle of the fourth quarter and tied the game at 43-all with 7.8 seconds left in regulation.
After a Buffalo timeout, Ava got the turnover and the foul in the transition, but Chase Dixon missed his potential game winning free throws with one second left.
Buffalo then pulled away in the overtime period to win the game, 51-46.
“It was a hard loss,” Houk said. “When you fight that hard to come back, you feel like you deserve to win.”
Houk said, “I’m really proud of how hard we played all week. Ben Loge, Austin Casey and Caleb Miles really stepped up on both sides of the ball. Our comeback was a total team effort. We made lots of hustle plays to keep the momentum in our favor.
Scoring for the Bears vs. Buffalo were Casey 13, Loge 12, Miles 12, Fish 4, and Dixon 2.
In the past two weeks, Ava JV defeated Morrisville, Blue Eye, Pleasant Hope and Fair Grove, while dropping games to Salem and Buffalo.
On Tuesday night, the JV Bears played Reeds Spring at home and claimed another victory, 58-51.
At the end of the first quarter it was a 2-point game, but Ava utilized full-court pressure in the second quarter to gain some easy baskets. The Bears score 25 points in the second period to take a 35-24 lead at halftime.
Reeds Spring outscored the Bears by four points in the second half, but Ava held on to win.
“We showed big improvement at the free throw line, “Coach Houk said. “As a team we went 16 of 20, only missing one in the second half.
Casey led all scorers with 18 points and Miles added 11. Kutz, Dixon and Philpott had 6 each, Johnson 5, Loge 4 and Fish 2.