Two weeks ago in the Cougar Activity Center, Ada girls coach Christie Jennings watched her team squander a fourth-quarter lead and drop a 39-34 decision to third-ranked Harrah.
The rematch turned out differently Friday night against Harrah.
Jennings watched her veteran squad hold on to a fourth quarter lead this time and defeat the talented Lady Panthers 50-44.
"I challenged the girls at the 1:45 mark (of the fourth quarter) to not let this happen again. We needed to find a way to pull it out, and we did," Jennings said.
Ada was clinging to a two-point lead heading into the fourth quarter this time. Defense and key free throws proved to be the difference down the stretch. Meneé Thomsen hit four free throws early in the period to give Ada its biggest lead (9). Thomsen would finish with seven points and two steals.
Olivia Wells, Markeisha Black and Aaliyah Blakley would connect on nine free throws in the final three minutes to help seal the win for the sixth-ranked Lady Cougars. The locals outscored Harrah 21-17 over the final eight minutes.
Ada finished the game 17-of-22 from the charity stripe.
After two lead changes early in the third quarter, the Lady Cougars got a huge 3-pointer from Thomsen to put Ada on top for good. The inside post tandem of Blakley and Olivia Wells accounted for the other five of Ada's third-quarter points.
Ada held a two point advantage, 29-27, heading into the fourth quarter.
After neither team scored in the first three minutes of the game, Harrah (18-4) would score first on a jumper by Blake Blessington. Ada answered when Haley Dean connected on a drive to the bucket and was fouled. Dean hit the free throw to give Ada its first lead at 3-2. However, when the first quarter ended, Harrah held a three point lead at 10-7. Ada shot a dismal 3-for-12 in the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, the Lady Cougars got going. Blakley, who finished just of 1-of-6 from the field in the first eight minutes, would find her range and connect on two jumpers and a 3-point field goal to give the Lady Cougars their first lead at 14-13. The Lady Cougars held Harrah to six points in the second frame and took a 21-16 lead to the locker room at halftime.
“I thought our zone gave them problems,” Jennings said. “I thought we played really good defense tonight.”
Blakley led all scorers with 22, recording a double-double with 10 rebounds. Wells poured in 14 and grabbed seven rebounds. Dean had four assists and a steal to go with her three points.
Blessington led Harrah with 19 points. Darian Hill chipped in 13 in the losing effort.
“We were in more foul trouble than Harrah,” said Jennings. “But we stayed composed and did not let our emotions overtake us. Harrah is very good team. This is a great win for us heading into the playoffs ... the real season.”
Ada (17-4) returns home for Senior Night Monday, as the Lady Cougars host Class 5A No. 1 Shawnee. The Lady Wolves escaped with a four-point win over Ada in December — a game which Ada led by four with two minutes to play. Shawnee won the 2013 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic.
Senior Night festivities will take place between the girls and boys games.
Ada hosts McLoud Saturday night in Class 4A District Tournament action. The girls game begins at 6:30 p.m., with the boys to follow at 8 p.m.