Ash Grove Pirates fall in district championship to College Heights

Michael Misfeldt

Pirate Asher Rust slips past his College Heights defender.

Trailing by six points with 1:30 left in the third quarter of the district championship, Ash Grove senior Brady Nicholson takes it to the hole for a quick bucket, bringing the score to 49-45, College Heights in the lead.  
One for the books—Nicholson ended the game with 21 points, which brought his career total to 2,338 points, the most ever scored by an Ash Grove boys basketball player. Additionally, Nicholson shot 93 percent from the free throw line this season which places him third all-time in the state. Notably, the sharpshooter also made 50 free throws in a row during a stretch this season, which is one shy of the state record.

Ash Grove senior Bryce Davis is met at the goal by two pesky College Heights Cougars. Below, A referee explains to Ash Grove head coach Grant Williamson why he received a technical foul with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game as the Pirates were desperately trying to claw their way back. (Photos by Ryan Squibb)

Lady Pirates fall in district semifinals to Marion C. Early, ends season with 16-11 overall record on hardwood
This week saw the season end for both the Ash Grove High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, as the Pirates fell in the Class 2, District 12 championship game, while the Lady Pirates lost in the Class 2, District 13 semifinals.
The No. 1 seeded boys team traveled to College Heights High School in Joplin on Saturday, Feb. 24, to play in the district championship game against No. 3 seeded College Heights, and came home with a 78-69 loss.
After leading 15-13 at the end of the first quarter, the Pirates put up 21 points in the second to increase their lead to 36-27 at the half. In the third quarter the Cougars were able to play great defense and force several turnovers to take a 52-47 lead. In the final quarter of play, both teams shot the ball well, but College Heights scored 26 points to Ash Grove’s 22 to win the game by nine points in come-from-behind fashion.
Brady Nicholson led Ash Grove with 21 points, Asher Rust added 18 points and Bryce Davis ended the game with 13 points.
Ash Grove opened their district play with a semifinal win over Liberal on Thursday, Feb. 22, 62-47.
The Pirates jumped out to a 19-8 first quarter lead and increased that lead to 33-16 by the half. Liberal fought back in the third quarter, outscoring Ash Grove 18-15 but still trailed 48-34. Ash Grove added another 14 points in the fourth quarter to close out the 15-point win.
Davis paced Ash Grove with 28 points, Nicholson added 11 points and Kyler Reece finished the game with 10 points.
The Pirates end their season with a 19-8 record.

Lady Pirates
For the girls, the Lady Pirates traveled to Weaubleau for their district tournament, but lost to Marion C. Early in the semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 53-39.
The Lady Panthers led 12-9 after the first quarter, but then exploded for 21 points in the second quarter to take a 33-17 lead into the half. Ash Grove outscored the Lady Panthers, 11-9, in the third quarter to cut the lead to 42-26. Both teams scored 11 points each in the final quarter. Bristol Lathrop led Ash Grove with 14 points.
The Lady Pirates opened the tournament on Monday, Feb. 19, with a 55-34 win over Lakeland.
Ash Grove led 14-8 after the first quarter and 30-20 at the half. The Lady Pirates scored 17 points in the third quarter to increase their lead to 47-25. Ash Grove would add eight more points in the final quarter of play to win the game by 21 points.
Lathrop led Ash Grove with 19 points and Cora Duit added 11 points in the win. The Lady Pirates finished their season with a 16-11 record.



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