Mustangs to play for title



January 19, 2013 - 12:00 AM

BURLINGTON — Iola High senior Levi Ashmore missed two days of practice this week due to illness, and as a result, he surrendered his starting spot for Friday’s contest with host Burlington High.
But his 3-pointer with a minute remaining in the game proved to be just the elixir the Mustangs needed, turning a 44-43 deficit into a 46-44 lead.
Iola defended a series of Burlington field goal attempts down the stretch to ward off the Wildcats 47-44 in the semifinals of the Burlington Invitational Tournament.
The Mustangs will take on top-seeded Labette County this afternoon at 4:45 in the Burlington High School gymnasium for the tournament championship. The sixth-seeded Iola squad already has knocked off the third seed (Sabetha) and second seed (Burlington). Winning the title would mean knocking off top-seeded Labette as well. The Grizzlies defeated Rossville 54-31.
“I’m excited for the kids,” Mustang coach Bill Peeper said. “When you look at the programs, you’ll see our name only once in the championship game (in 2012). We want to chance to beat Labette County and win this thing.”
Having Ashmore come off the bench with his shooting touch intact, certainly helps.
Ashmore’s trey came moments after Burlington’s Grant Shell drained two free throws to give the Wildcats a 44-43 lead with 2:16 remaining — the first time Burlington led in the second half.
A traveling call on Iola’s Tyler McIntosh gave possession back to the Wildcats.
But Iola’s Trent Latta swiped a Burlington pass, which led to Ashmore’s clutch 3-pointer, his third of the game.
Burlington’s Ryan Redding and Braden Meyer both missed close shots on the Wildcats’ subsequent possession. A scramble for the ball led to a tie-up, with possession going back to Iola.
Latta hit the first of two free throws, giving Iola a 47-44 lead.
Meyer missed a three-pointer. Mason Coons grabbed the rebound for the Mustangs. He missed a free throw with 8 seconds left, setting Burlington up for a final shot. Meyer’s shot bounced wide of the target shortly before the buzzer sounded.
“That steal and Levi’s 3 was a huge play,” Peeper said. “We missed a lot of 3-pointers tonight, but that one went in.”
Ashmore’s trey mirrored a similar sequence late in the third quarter. With the teams tied at 34-24, Ashmore connected to give the Mustangs a 37-34 lead.
“We hadn’t seen Levi since Tuesday night’s game,” Peeper said. “He was so sick, we told him to go home and take some time off. That’s the thing about all of these guys. They’re all competitive. They all want to play.”
Defenses ruled the roost early.
The Mustangs led 6-2 after one quarter and 24-19 at the break.
The Wildcats closed the gap to 31-29 after three quarters, and a Preston Beyer basket early on the fourth quarter knotted the score at 31-31.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Peeper said. “Burlington is a good, well-coached team. But we felt like we left a lot of points out their on the floor. We had some opportunities we let slip away.”
Ashmore led the way for the Mustangs with 20 points and three steals. Latta followed with nine points, seven rebounds, two steals and four assists. Coons and Tyler Powelson both had nine rebounds. Kaden Macha had four boards. Powelson added two steals and two blocked shots. Coons dished out three assists.
Grant Shell scored 16 and Redding had 12 to lead Burlington.
In other tournament action Friday, Sabetha downed Santa Fe Trail 66-26 and Labette County downed Paola 59-51.
Iola (6-18-7-16—47)
Burlington (2-17-10-15—44)
Iola (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP): Latta 4-1-3-9, Ashmore 3/3-5-2-20, Coons 0/1-0-3-3, McIntosh 1-0-3-2, Macha 1-0-1-2, Kauth 2-1-4-5, Powelson 2-1-2-5, Grover 0-1-1-1. TOTALS: 13/4-9-19-47.
Burlington Redding 4-4-3-12, Mahoney 0-2-5-2, Whitworth 0/1-2-0-5, Shell 4/2-2-2-16,  Beyer 1-1-1-3, Carassco 1-2-1-4, Schepers 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 11/3-13-12-44.

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