BOLIVAR, Mo. -- The Southern Boone Lady Eagles punched their ticket to the Class 4 Final Four for the first time since 2016 with an impressive defensive effort in their 36-27 victory Saturday against the Ava Lady Bears in the quarterfinals at Southwest Baptist University.
Southern Boone will take on Vashon (25-5), ranked No. 1 in Class 4, at 6 p.m. Thursday at Great Southern Bank Arena in Springfield.
The Lady Eagles made a statement early in the contest and never looked back.
Southern Boone opened the game on a 6-0 run and was able to ride the momentum all the way through the first for an 18-2 lead after a 3 from Majayla Garrett-Dudley late in the period.
Ava responded to start the second by going on a 5-0 run to cut it to 18-7 before two free throws from Chloe Bukowsky stopped the run for the moment.
Each side struggled to score the rest of the half, as two points from the Lady Bears were all that was mustered to send the Lady Eagles to the locker room with a 20-9 lead.
It took almost five minutes for a basket to get scored in the third, as Bukowksy started the scoring with a pull-up jumper with 3:01 left.
Southern Boone continued to shut down Ava’s offense, as a 3-pointer from Lexie Gastineau accounted for all three of the Lady Bears points in the quarter.
This let the Lady Eagles take a 26-12 advantage to the final eight minutes.
Nine points would be the closest Ava would get in the fourth quarter -- at 27-18, 32-23 and the final margin.
Bukowsky led the way for Southern Boone (21-9) with 15 points while Garrett-Dudley chipped in 12.
Sara Mendel finished with a game-high 17 points for Ava (25-5).