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The Ava Bears opened their basketball season at Spokane Tuesday night with a 58-50 loss to the Owls.
The Bears will see action in the 75th annual Mansfield Invitational Tournament next week, beginning with first-round play on Monday night.
The Bears are seeded fourth and will play host Mansfield at 7:30 Monday.
Norwood is the top-seed in the tournament and will face Niangua in the 6 o’clock game Monday.
On Tuesday, Dec. 6, No. 2 Gainesville will play Houston and No. 3 West Plains will face Fordland.
Semifinals will be played on Thursday night with losers’ bracket games on Friday.
Finals will be decided on Saturday, beginning with the seventh place game at 3 p.m., consolation at 4:30, the third-place bout at 6 and the championship contest at 7:30.
Spokane came out with a hot shooting hand Tuesday night, sinking four 3-point shots in the first quarter to take a 17-4 lead over the Bears.
Ava outscored the Owls in the second and fourth quarters, but could not overcome the big first-quarter deficit.
Coach Nathan Houk said outside shooting was the difference in the game.
“We had too many breakdowns in transition and our zone defense, letting their shooters get too many open looks,” the Ava coach said.
The Bears used a press in the fourth quarter to make a run, outscoring the home team 19-13, but that was not enough to offset the Spokane scoring.
Zach Leonard led the Bears with 14 points and five rebounds, and Austin Gastineau had 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Sophomore Ben Loge had nine points and seven rebounds and senior post Kevin Philpott had nine points and six rebounds.