In a road contest against a conference foe, the Ava Lady Bears controlled the final seconds of the fourth quarter to take home a 59-52 victory over the Cabool Lady Bulldogs.
The Lady Bears led by one point with 27 seconds left in the contest when senior Jacey Swofford was fouled, and made good on both free throws, making it 55-52. Ava maintained their full-court press and forced a turnover on Cabool, and senior Hope Evans put up an easy bucket underneath. The Lady Bears forced another turnover, and the Lady Bulldogs sent Swofford to the line once again.
Swofford connected on both shots from the charity stripe, and Ava led 59-52. On their final possession, Cabool suffered another turnover, ending the game.
“We knew coming in that they had several capable scorers, so we wanted to find them,” said Ava head coach Steve Sanders. “We didn’t do a very good job of that earlier in the game, but our kids made some good adjustments, and down the stretch we just got some defensive stops that we’ve been trying for all year. They finally stepped up and got the job done and we were fortunate to get out of here with a win.”
The teams were neck and neck in the first half, with Cabool leading by two after one quarter, and Ava taking the lead going into the half, 24-23. Ava pulled ahead by 10 points in the third quarter, but Cabool battled back to trail by only two to start the fourth. A shot from downtown from Alyssa Matherly gave the Lady Bulldogs the lead to begin the fourth quarter, 43-42.
Hope Evans led all scorers with 19 points for Ava, followed by teammate Jacey Swofford with 17.
“Hope Evans had a good game for us tonight,” said Coach Sanders. “Our defense is really keyed on Jacey, and we were able to get her out in the corner and get Hope isolated on the block a few times, and she did a good job of finishing around the basket. Jacey did a good job of getting her the ball.”
Lady Bulldogs head coach Rance Beller said he expected a close game with Ava. “We’ve been in most games this year,” he said. “I told the girls I’m proud of their effort. We got down by ten in the third quarter and came back and had a nice run to get within two to start the fourth…we’ve done that all year. We’ve battled and not given up. There were mistakes here and there, and we made them tonight instead of Ava. We give them credit.”
The Lady Bears move to 7-11 on the season, and Cabool drops to 9-11.
Scoring for Cabool: Kaila Shannon, 5; Kara Matherly, 7; Kelsey Drone, 13; Sarah Luallen, 14; Jaylene Atkins, 4; and Alyssa Matherly, 9.
Scoring for Ava: Ashton Bewley, 9; Bailey Loge, 5; Kiaunna Snow, 7; Candice Summers, 2; Jacey Swofford, 17; Hope Evans, 19