The Houston Tigers lost more than a ballgame Friday night. They also lost senior Michael Buckner.
Buckner, the team’s leading scorer, crumpled to the ground with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ 48-40 loss
A MRI revealed a torn MCL in Buckner’s knee. He will miss the rest of the season.
Ava’s win made it a clean sweep. Earlier, the Lady Bears raced out to an early lead and held off the Lady Tigers 38-30.
Houston had trouble handing Ava’s pressure. The Lady Tigers trailed 12-2 after the first quarter and only managed seven first-half points.
Houston scored 14 points in the third quarter – double its first half production – to trim the deficit to seven points and got as close as five down when Kendra Welch converted a turnover to an easy basket with 1:59 to go. But a pair of Ava free throws ended the comeback.
“We really got off to a slow start and couldn’t recover,” Lady Tigers coach Brent Kell said. “I was pleased that we didn’t give up because we could have pretty easily.”
Junior Holly Thomas led Houston with 12 points as the only player in double figures. Welch and Harper scores seven points apiece.
The Lady Tigers have dropped four of their last five games since winning four straight in mid January. A common theme in the losses has been the inability to handle fullcourt pressure. Ava stymied Houston with its trapping defense, especially in the first half.
“We really struggled with pressure again,” Kell said. “Their guards were tall and had long arms and that gave us problems. We couldn’t get it over the top of them and couldn’t get around them.”
The Tigers, who trailed by double digits late in the third quarter, rallied with a quick 9-0 spurt that cut the deficit to two points. Sophomore Jesse Setters hit a pair of 3-pointers during the rally, his last making it 35-37 with 7:04 remaining.
Houston trailed by a point when Tyler DeWitt converted a steal into a layup with 2:02 left. But without Buckner, who went down a few moments earlier, the Tigers gave up the final seven points of the game as they suffered their fourth consecutive loss.
Buckner, who scored 13 of the Tigers’ first 18 points, finished with 18 points. Setters scored six.
Between games, senior Emily Stubbs was crowned the 2008 Hoop Queen by outgoing queen Jessica Neal.
Freshman Paulette Chernowsky was first runner-up. Sophomore Courtney Sillyman was second runner-up.