The Ava Bears varsity took the championship of the Family Pharmacy Tournament at Mountain Grove with a win over Willow Springs Saturday, 52-45.
The teams played close through the first two quarters. The Bears were up by one at the end of the first quarter, and took a 27-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.
It was a big third quarter that saw the Bears start to separate from Willow Springs. Ava outscored Willow Springs, 16-6, in the quarter. The Bears had to hold off Willow Springs in the final quarter, but Ava sank nine free throws to hold the lead.
Andrew Dalton led the Ava scoring with 19. Ethan Donley had 12; Blayne Mendel, nine; Mason Cole, four; Quinton Donley and Payton Evans, three; and Bryse Dodson, two.
The Bears had advanced to the championship game with wins over Dora and Mountain Grove.
Ava defeated Mountain Grove, 63-48, in the second round game of the tournament.
The teams traded leads during the early minutes of the game, but the Bears would go on top 10-8 midway through the first quarter and hold the lead for the remainder of the game. Ava was up 15-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Mountain Grove used a six point run to pull within one late in the second quarter, but the Bears scored the final four points to go into halftime with a 25-20 lead.
Ava stretched out their lead to 42-33 at the end of the third quarter.
The Panthers pulled within seven early in the final quarter, but Ava sank eight free throws to close out the game.
Dalton led the scoring for the Bears with 23. Mendel had 15; Cole, 14; Quinton Donley, six; Evans, four; and Dodson, two.
Ava had opened the tournament with a 71-42 win over Dora. Dora’s only lead of the game came on the first score of the game, from then on it was all Ava. The Bears held a 16-7 lead after one quarter of play.
A 17 point run in the second quarter put Ava up 33-9. The Bears went into halftime with a 33-15 lead, and held a 56-32 edge going into the final quarter.
Dalton again led the scoring with 21. Cole and Mendel had 14; Evans, eight; Quinton Donley, six; Dodson, four; and Ethan Donley and Dylan Sawyer, two.
Dalton and Mendel were named to the all-tournament team, and Dalton was also the tournament Most Valuable Player.
The Bears will face Mountain Grove and Willow Springs again next week in regular season play when they travel to Mountain Grove on Tuesday and Willow Springs on Friday. They will return home on February 12 against Houston.