Checotah — The old adage in sports “Defense wins championships” played out Saturday night during the girls Class 4A Regional championship game in Checotah.
After giving up 10 points in the first quarter and trailing by three, the Ada Lady Cougars would hold Victory Christian to 13 points the rest of the game to claim the regional championship with a 32-23 win.
“I thought we came out really tight tonight,” second-year head coach Christie Jennings said. "That had a lot to do with nerves of playing in the regional finals and Victory Christian’s defense in the first half."
Victory Christian (17-7) opened the scoring at the 6:30 mark of the first quarter when Lavanda Thomas hit a 3-pointer. Ada would grab the lead after Aaliyah Blakley inside bucket and Olivia Wells’ two free throws. There were four lead changes in the opening frame. The only other Ada bucket in the first quarter came via Sami Jewett’s 3-pointer. VC led 10-7 at the end of the opening frame.
Ada’s defense made a statement in the second quarter, holding VC to two points. Blakley had six of her game-high 18 points in the frame. Ada had two key defensive stops inside the two minute mark, forcing VC into back-to-back errant passes and turnovers. However, Ada could not convert off either turnover.
With Ada clinging to a one-point lead and VC looking for the final shot before halftime, Haley Dean stole the ball at mid-court and streaked down the left side. A trailing Devanee Simmons was the recipient of a nice wrap-around pass from Dean and Simmons converted on the layup to give Ada a three-point lead at intermission, 15-12.
The second half, although not in total number of points, appeared to be a repeat of Thursday’s game versus Bethel. Ada would limit VC to six points in the third quarter. Blakley did all of Ada’s scoring in the frame, tallying seven points. Ada’s lead was four at 22-18.