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The Bears were on the bus Wednesday afternoon, heading to West Plains where they would face Charleston in the Class 3 sectional at the Civic Center.
Game time Wednesday night was 6 o’clock.
Wednesday’s winner would advance to the quarterfinals at Poplar Bluff High School on Saturday. The boys’ quarterfinals game will begin at 1 p.m.
This is Ava’s second district championship in as many years, but the first time Ava has played in District 2 which takes the Bears into southeast Missouri.
Ava was 22-7 going into Wednesday’s game. Charleston had a similar record of 22-5.
Ava won the district title at Cabool, defeating Cabool in the semifinal on Thursday night, 64-53, then moving on to beat the Willow Springs Bears on Saturday.
Cabool, seeded seventh in the tournament upset No. 2 Liberty, 68-67, in first-round action to advance to the semifinals.
The Bears pulled out to a 38-27 lead at halftime Thursday, and won by the same 11-point margin.
Pete Leonard led the Bears with 20 points and Preston Eagleman matched that mark for Cabool.
Brock Mitchell had 12 points for the Bears, scoring half of those points on 6-for-6 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore guard Austin Gastineau added 10 points for Ava, Austin Clayton had 8, Zach Leonard 8, and Trae Shelton 6.
The Bears came out firing Saturday night, taking a 5-0 lead early and forcing Willow Springs to take a timeout to regroup at the 6 minute mark in the first period.
Ava led throughout the game, holding a double-digit margin through much of the second half.
But Willow Springs continued to chip away at the lead, and got it down to a narrow 2-point margin late in the game when the Bears from Ava were unable to convert their free throws.
Just when it looked as if Willow’s strategy might succeed, the Leonard brothers, Pete and Zach, knocked down two free throws each to take the score to the final margin of 60-54.
Shelton led the Bears with 18 points, sinking two from 3-point range and converting eight of 13 free throws, all in the fourth quarter.
Pete Leonard added 17 points for Ava, including 4-of-5 at the line in the fourth period and 6-for-7 on the night. Pete also had a 3-point basket.
Gastineau had 12 points, Mitchell 8, Zach Leonard 4 and Austin Clayton 1.
Cole Johnson had 16 points for Willow Springs and Clint Harper added 14. Johnson was 5-for-5 at the line in the fourth period.