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Jorie Garrett had 32 points and 22 rebounds Saturday in the opening round of district play at Cabool, and the Ava Lady Bears defeated Mtn. Grove 65-56 to advance in the tournament.
The Ava girls were playing Willow Springs Wednesday night in semifinals action at Cabool. That game was significant in that Willow was the only SCA team to defeat the Lady Bears during season play. That loss came on Ava’s home floor on Feb. 2.
Ava’s Payton Lakey fouled out midway through the fourth quarter but still finished with a double double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Mtn. Grove used intense full court pressure to cut the lead to eight points several times in the final period, but a big steal by Erica Croney with a minute left helped seal the victory for Ava.
Coach Clint Gazette said Mtn. Grove played with the most heart he has seen all year.
“They did an excellent job of taking us out of our game after the first quarter,” Gazette said.
Senior point guard Abbie Lansdown got into early foul trouble and sat out much of the game. Because of that, the Lady Bears were unable to establish a rhythm and Mtn. Grove almost made it work, outscoring the Lady Bears 24-18 in the fourth quarter.
Others scoring for Ava against the Lady Panthers were Croney 7, Lansdown 6, Emily Sterling 4, Bethany Horn 2 and Bailey Lee 2.
Mtn. Grove was paced by Sadie Dugger with 14 points and Ashlynn Rogers’ 13 marks.
Ava led Mtn. Grove 32-20 at halftime and picked up their 19th win of the season, moving to 19-6.
The girls’ district championship will be decided on Friday night, March 2, in a 7 o’clock game. The winner will move on to play the winner of District 1 at the West Plains Civic Center on Wednesday night, March 7.
The girls’ sectional game will be played at 6 o’clock with the boys’ game to follow at 7:45.