A pair of South Central Association games last week in Hiett Gymnasium both went into the loss column for the Houston High School boys basketball team, as the Tigers fell 48-31 to Ava on Tuesday and 54-47 to Willow Springs on Friday.

Houston took an early advantage against and led 6-0 after senior guard Clayton Moore sank a 16-foot jumper with 5:15 left in the first quarter. The visiting Bears then went on a 7-0 run capped off by a layup by sophomore forward Andrew Dalton at the 3:05 mark of the quarter.

But Houston responded and led 11-9 at the end of the first period following a put-back shot by sophomore forward Korbyn Tune with 56 seconds left.

The Tigers had difficulty scoring for much of the rest of the contest, and trailed 25-19 at halftime and 36-27 at the end of the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Bears got their offense in gear and closed out the win by outscoring their hosts 12-4 in the fourth period.

“We got off to a great start in the game,” said HHS head coach Rod Gorman, “but Ava adjusted to our zone and tightened up their defense which caused us some problems.”

Only four players scored for Houston in the contest, as Moore finished with 12 points, while junior forward Ty Franklin had 10. Tune added 8 points (and helped fuel the Tigers’ quick start by scoring 6 in the first quarter), while senior guard Kyler Ramsey sank a free throw for Houston’s other point.

Dalton led Ava in scoring with a game-high 20 points.

The loss to Willow Springs mark the third time this season Houston has been beaten by the Bears. As was the case on the other two occasions (both in tournaments), the two teams took turns making runs at each other much of the way, only to have Willow Springs get away late.

This time, the score was tied 30-all at the end of the third quarter, but the Tigers couldn’t find what they needed to build a lead, and an open 3-point shot with time running down that would have tied the score again was no good.

“We had our chances,” Gorman said.

Houston had a robust 19 offensive rebounds in the game, but failed to capitalize.

“We didn’t convert enough of those,” Gorman said. “Sometimes we several shots at the basket.”

Houston (10-11, 1-4 SCA through last week) will be busy this week. The Tigers played a nonconference road game Monday at Laquey and hosted Salem for an SCA tilt on Tuesday, and they’ll play the regular season finale tonight (Thursday) at Mountain Grove.

Houston will return to Mountain Grove on Tuesday of next week to face Liberty in the first round of the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 3 District 4 tournament. Tip-off for that contest is set for 8:30 p.m.

The bracket for next week’s MSHSAA Class 3 District 4 boys basketball tournament.

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