By Jason Hoekema
Monday, Feb. 18 marks the start of the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) Class 3, District 11 playoff tournaments for the Ava Lady Bears and the 19th for the Bears.
The Varsity Lady Bears will be playing their final regular-season game on the road against Liberty-Mountain View, who are currently 23-2, at 7:30 P.M.
Four days later the girls will be on the road again in Clever, Missouri to participate in the MSHAA tournament. They will begin their quest for the winning bracket with a game against Fair Grove, who are currently 21-2.
The Lady Bears are the underdog in the match, getting the 7th district seed whereas Fair Grove sits in the second tournament seed having won over 90-percent of their games in the current season.
The Lady Eagles have averaged 61 points per game, six more than the Lady Bears and have also allowed six fewer points in their season average. The Lady Eagles are also undefeated in their away games, meaning they will be a formidable team to play against come Monday, Feb. 18.
The Boys team also faces a steep, uphill battle in the MSHSAA tournament. At 7 P.M. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, the Bears will play Springfield Catholic in the opening round.
Last time the two teams met, Ava was handed a 71-34 loss in the first round of the Annual Blue and Gold Tournament held on the Missouri State University campus in December.
The Fightin’ Irish are 22-3 overall, undefeated on the road, and have won 88-percent of this season’s matchups where the private school plays Goliath with different student-attendance rules which public schools cannot legally play by.
On paper, the Ava Bears do stack-up statistically, both teams averaging near 70 points per game. The difference is in points allowed per game where the Bears give up an average of 64 while Catholic lets fewer by their defense with an average of 53 points per game.
All of the Class 3, District 11 MSHSAA games will be played in Clever. Schedules and matchups can be viewed by visiting www.mshsaa.org and searching for Ava High School.