Aurora cages Monett Cubs to open conference play

The Aurora Houn' Dawgs broke a 3-game losing streak Friday at home by shooting 56% from the field and playing stifling defense, forcing Big 8 Conference rival Monett into 16 turnovers to give the Houn's a convincing 70-39 win. Aurora senior Logan Bader, who led all scorers with 18 points, celebrated the win and reaching his 1,000th point mark for his high school career.

"I was a little nervous about it before the game started," said Bader after the win, "but once the game got going I told myself that it's just like any other night; just play basketball." Bader now sits at 1,011 points with a half a season remaining.

"That kid (Bader) is special," said Aurora head coach Daniel Cutbirth. "Not just for how amazing he is on the basketball court, but for what he does at school during the day and on his own time. He's a real difference maker. I always tell people I hope my son grows up to be like Logan Bader."

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Monett, who now holds an 8-5 record, opened the night leading 10-2, but that lead disappeared quickly as Aurora used a renewed defensive pressure to mount a 23-point run through the rest of the first quarter and deep into the second stanza to go up 25-10.

"We started that run because of solid defensive effort," Cutbirth said. "But it doesn't hurt to hit shots like we did, either."

Aurora, now sporting a 7-5 record, led 14-10 after the first quarter and 35-17 at the break.

"We know if we play good on the defensive end then we turn that into solid offensive production," said Bader. "The whole team stepped up to get this win."

Aurora junior Devon Hilton scored 11 of his 14 points in the third quarter, which kept the Cubs from being able to mount any kind of rally. The fourth quarter saw an unexpected running mercy clock with 4:40 remaining and the Houn' Dawgs earned their opening conference game win easily.

"It's a big game," said Cutbirth. "These kids made a statement tonight that they can't be taken lightly in the conference. Hopefully we can build on that."

After Bader's 18 points and Hilton's 14 points, Aurora senior Josh Fronabarger added 14 to give Aurora three players in double-figure scoring.

Monett was led by Alex Turner's 10 points. Senior Logan Coones added 9.

Aurora will host another rival on Tuesday, Jan. 19, when the Mt. Vernon Mountaineers come to town. Monett will host Carthage on Tuesday, Jan. 19.