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The Ava Bears defeated Mtn. Grove in the first round of the Missouri Class 3, District 2 Tournament Tuesday night at Cabool, advancing to the semifinals game tonight (Thursday) at 7:30.
Ava, entering the tournament as the No. 3 seed, won 67-39, with balanced scoring from four players in double figures.
Trae Shelton and Pete Leonard had 16 each to lead all scorers. Zach Leonard added 12 points and Austin Clayton had 11 for Ava.
Others adding to Ava’s tally were Austin Casey 4, Austin Gastineau 3, Brock Mitchell 3, and Caleb Miles 2.
Shaun Anderson had 11 points for the Panthers.
Ava led the Panthers 35-15 at halftime and coasted through the second half, as indicated by the number of players who saw action and contributed to the win.
Tuesday’s win represented Coach Cole Dishman’s 20th win of the season, as the Bears now stand 20-7.
The Bears will face Cabool in the semifinals game tonight. The Bulldogs are seeded 7th on the bracket, but knocked off No. 2 Liberty of Mtn. View Tuesday night, 68-67, to advance.
The Bears beat Cabool, 85-53, in conference play at home on Feb. 14.
Bears Beat Houston, Forsyth
To Close Out Regular Season
Ava seniors Pete Leonard and Brock Mitchell combined for 49 points here on Friday night, Feb. 18 – the equivalent of Houston’s total – as the Bears defeated the Tigers 97-49 in SCA action.
Mitchell sank four baskets from 3-point land and finished with 23 points on the night, scoring 20 points in the first half. Leonard had 26 points to lead all scorers.
Austin Clayton added 12 points and Trae Shelton had 11, as four Ava players scored in double digits.
Austin Gastineau had 8 points, Kody Kutz 7, Zach Leonard 6, Austin Casey 3 and Ben Loge 2, as nine different players scored for Coach Dishman.
The Bears held a 60-33 advantage at halftime.
Tuesday night, Feb. 22, was Senior Night for the Bears as they took the home floor for the final time this year against Forsyth.
Senior players Pete Leonard, Mitchell, Shelton and Clayton were recognized before the varsity game.
Also honored at Senior Night were cheerleaders and dance team members.
The Bears had little trouble with Forsyth, leading the Panthers 46-21 at halftime and going on to a 74-42 non-conference win.
The Bears finished the regular season with a record of 19-7 heading into district play.
Pete Leonard was once again Ava’s leading scorer with 18 points. But everyone saw court time and 10 different players scored for the Bears.
Shelton had a dozen points for the Bears, Clayton added 11 and Mitchell had 10. Others adding to the tally were Zach Leonard 9, Caleb Miles 4, Austin Casey 2, Austin Gastineau 2, Ben Loge 2, and Kevin Philpott 2.
Coach Dishman said it’s hard to find the right balance in a game like the Bears had Tuesday night. A coach wants to let his seniors play in their final home game, yet there’s always that risk of someone getting hurt unnecessarily just before districts.