Emotion Floods Teams Making or Missing the State Tournament

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GILBERT, Iowa -- Sophomore point guard Ava Hawthorne doesn’t want to go back there -- the sting of a close loss a year ago at Mason City kept her Gilbert Tigers out of the Girls State Basketball tourney.

That was a year ago. In 2020 it’s a different story, a 55-48 win over a tough, sharp-shooting Grinnell Tiger team, and the Gilbert girls are bound for State.

“The room after the game was terrible and I just don’t want to put my team through that again so we told ourselves we’re not doing that again, we went and did it and made it happen,” said Hawthorne.

“We bought into playing defense tonight,” said Gilbert Head Coach Mike Frisk. “I knew we had to guard them, they had 250 threes on the season, I said guard the three line, the kids played to perfection the plan, they just laid it out there and gave all their effort.”

For Ava Hawthorne this season has been one she will always remember. A year ago her coach, for fun, had the girls learn the traditional six on six game that Iowa high school girls had done up to 1993.

Not long after, they heard there was a movie to be filmed about six on six girls basketball. Her grandma suggested they go try out, Ava as a player, and Mom and Grandma in the stands as fans for the movie. Ava tried out for the lead part and got it. So she has spent some weekdays and weekends shooting movie scenes with professional actors for the movie New Providence. Filming has completed, but Hawthorne has plenty to keep her busy with basketball, and studies, she’s a 4.0 student.

Recently, she had a chance to speak with a couple of real-life players from the 1946 New Providence Girls State Tournament basketball team. Ava listened to the stories of Delores Whitehead, and Arlene Brandt, two sisters who played on the 1946 team about what it was like to play at state back then. They, in turn, encouraged Ava that she could indeed make the State Tournament.

Ava had been getting encouragement for many years from her family, especially her Grandpa Bob Bryant.

“Me and my grandpa have been watching the state tournament since I was in second grade,” said Hawthorne. “I told him when I was around like 10-11 years old I told him one day Grandpa you’re gonna watch me play up there.”

Last night, her grandparents were in the stands.

“I told her she played the game of her life,” said Bryant. “She’s been wanting to go to State since the second grade she promised me she would do it and she did.”

Seven Seed Gilbert 19-3, takes on #2 Seed Glenwood 24-0, Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Movie New Providence will not be premiered during the Girls State Basketball Tourney as earlier planned, producer Jack Smith said Tuesday

“We decided to push the Iowa screenings to late March or early April,” said Smith. “Didn’t want to rush the edit, and some of the players from the movie, might make state, we didn’t want the screening to be a distraction.”

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