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Cooper Emerich warmed up the nets with three baskets from 3-point range Tuesday night and finished the game with 18 points as the Ava Bears slipped by Laquey, 72-63, in the first round of the Conway Invitational Tournament.
The Bears, seeded second, will play No. 3 Fordland in semifinals action tonight (Thursday) at 8 o’clock.
The winner will move on to play for the championship at 8 o’clock Saturday. The loser will play for third place at 6:30.
Crane is the top seed in the tournament. Warsaw is seeded fourth, followed by Conway, Buffalo, Laquey and Stoutland.
Austin Gastineau led the Bears and all scorers with 28 points Tuesday.
Others scoring for the Bears were Brandon Guengerich 16, Caleb Miles 8, Ben Loge 5, and Dexter Fish 3.
The Bears hit 9 of 15 from the free throw line Tuesday night.
Last Thursday night the Bears traveled to Forsyth and picked up a non-conference win, 57-50, over the Panthers.
Gastineau again led the Bears in scoring with 25 points, including 8-for-11 from the line.
Others scoring for Ava at Forsyth were Miles 8, Loge 8, Emerich 7, Fish 4 and Guengerich 4.
Looking ahead to next week, the Bears will host Salem in SCA action Tuesday night, Jan. 29. Action that night will begin with a freshman game at 5 o’clock, followed by the junior varsity, then the varsity.
The Bears will round out the home schedule on Friday night, Feb. 1, with Cabool here for an SCA contest. That will be Senior Night, wtih the senior players recognized prior to the start of the varsity game.
The Bears’ final five games will be conference bouts with road games at Mtn. View-Liberty on Feb. 5, Mtn. Grove Feb. 8, Willow Springs Feb. 12, and Thayer on Feb. 14.
District play will begin Feb. 18, with the Bears assigned to District 11 this year with the tournament hosted by Hollister.