The Ada Cougars committed 23 turnovers and shot 44 percent from the free-throw line against archrival McAlester Tuesday night inside the Cougar Activity Center.

While not the best recipe for success, the Cougars overcome those obstacles and defeated the Buffaloes 53-42.

Ada, ranked No. 18 in Class 4A, improved to 7-4 on the year, while McAlester left town at 1-11.

First-year Ada head coach Garland Parks said, while pleased with the victory, the Cougars must clean up their act moving forward.

“We struggled in both of those areas. We have to do a better job. I’ve stressed to those guys that we have to take care of the basketball. We have to take advantage of the opportunities we have at the free-throw line, or we won’t beat good teams,” Parks said. “But wins are always better than losses. Hopefully, we can learn from it.”

The Cougars jumped out to a 7-2 lead to start the game, but McAlester quickly turned things around. The Buffaloes ended the first period on an 11-2 run. Zach Lerblance started the MHS run with a 3-pointer, and he hit two free throws with 7.3 seconds left to put McAlester ahead 13-9 heading into the second period.

Ada rebounded in the second period. Kobe Burgess scored eight points in a 16-7 AHS volley. Lerblance nailed a 3-pointer late in the quarter to get McAlester within two, but Ada answered when Jake Shannon hit a fall-away 3-pointer from the corner as the buzzer sounded to put the hosts on top 25-20 at halftime.

After Jett Wood scored on a putback early in the third quarter to get McAlester within 27-24, the Cougars scored the next 12 points to get some breathing room. Cody Smith and Burgess each hit 3-pointers in that AHS spurt.

Burgess hit a one-handed floater at the buzzer to give Ada a commanding 42-28 lead heading to the final frame.

Smith scored back-to-back baskets to extend Ada’s lead to 48-30 with 6:39 left.

McAlester ended the game on a 12-2 run but got no closer than 10.

Burgess paced the Ada attack, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three assists. Smith also reached double figures with 12. Nine different Ada players reached the scoring column for Ada.

Wood led the McAlester effort with a game-high 20 points to go with 12 rebounds and five steals. He hit a trio of 3-pointers. Lerblance added 11 points for the Buffs. McAlester had just 13 turnovers in the game and collected 12 steals.

The Cougars now go from one rival to another. Ada travels to Ardmore (No. 2 in Class 4A) Friday night.

“It’s going to be tough with No. 2 Ardmore going to their place. They play pressure basketball, so we’re going to have to take care of the ball and play a lot smarter to have a chance to win,” Parks said.

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.