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Ada — Ada girls coach Christie Jennings wanted senior Haley Dean to score a little more during the 2012-13 basketball season. She needed her to score more against Lomega in their Mid-America clash Thursday night at East Central University.
Dean scored a career-high 17 points and made several big plays late in the third quarter to help Ada move past Lomega 57-40.
“She's a gamer,” Jennings said of her defensive specialist. “Sometimes she doesn't play well in games we're supposed to win, but in big games like this she really shows up.”
Ada will battle Mount St. Mary in tonight's 8 p.m. semifinal match while Lomega takes on Sulpur in today's 3 p.m. consolation opener
Dean was a game-changer against the Lady Raiders. She had two of her five steals that led to layups in the third quarter. Dean also had four of Ada's five points to end that same quarter, and her putback with time running out gave the Lady Cougars a 40-32 lead. Lomega had pulled within 35-32 after two free throws by Rachel Yost at the 1:49 mark of the third.
Aaliyah Blakley hit a pair of free throws to stat the fourth before Dean and Meneé Thomsen delivered the knockout blows by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to stretch the Ada lead to 48-32 with 5:16 left in the game.
Dean, who finished 6-of-8 from the field, hit three free throws down the stretch and had yet another steal and layup — she finished with four takeaways — to make it 55-38 with 2:10 remaining.
Blakley, Ada's post player, struggled offensivley, hitting just five of 18 field goals. She still finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
“We feel very fortunate with our leading scorer — which is one of the best around — having one of her poorest shooting games and us still coming out on top,” Jennings said. “Hopefully she'll be ready to go (tonight) and Haley will still be firing. We need more of them going because Mount St. Mary is really a good team.”
Thomsen added eight points and nine rebounds for Ada while Olivia Wells scored eight points off the bench.
Lomega sharpshooter Taylor Mendell kept Lomega close in the first half, burying three 3-pointers from near NBA-range. Her last long-range triple cut Ada's lead to 23-21 with just under two minutes left in the second period.
Ada freshman Payton Taylor hit a free throw at the 1:30 mark that gave the Lady Cougars a 24-21 lead at the break.
Mendell finished with five 3-pointers, including a 30-footer at the 4:08 mark of the third quarter that cut an Ada lead to 30-27.
Lomega got eight points from Hailey Duffey, who was 5-of-6 from the free throw line. Duffey also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
The Lady Raiders had 18 turnovers compared to just six for Ada.