At Batesville High School, guard Ava Johnston is a hard worker who has done everything possible to advance herself through the senior ranks.
She has also become a devoted friend. The two formed a bond that helped Johnston escape from a residential treatment facility while attending Batesville’s season-opening basketball banquet.
“She’s just a very competitive, smart girl,” said assistant coach Shawn Diederich, who recruited Johnston. “She wanted to win her share of any possible accolades, and that’s where she has blossomed.”
Johnston leads the Eagles, according to standards, in scoring (23.8), rebounds (6.1), steals (2.3) and 3-point shooting (33 percent). She is among the NAIA leaders in all the shooting categories except defensive rebounds.
For all that, Johnston is an outlier because she did not accept a scholarship in college and instead decided to continue working through the program after graduation.
The school president, Patrick Givens, says Johnston has shown he has faith in her despite the fact that Johnston left the program after making sure to disclose that she was addicted to drugs in an NCAA student-conduct report.
But Johnston has refused to turn her back on her friends and community.
“My education is everything,” Johnston said. “And I think it’s important that people I share my experience with see that college is important.”
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