Ada girls battle Eufaula in final scrimmage

Ada head coach Christie Jennings can’t bear to watch the action in this 2017 Ada News file photo. Jennings and her squad participated in their final preseason scrimmage at home Monday evening against Eufaula.

The Ada High girls basketball team hosted Eufaula in its final preseason scrimmage Monday evening at the Cougar Activity Center.

It was my first opportunity to see the 2017-18 Lady Cougars in action.

It was a good measuring stick for coach Christie Jennings’ squad. The Lady Ironheads are ranked No 20 in Class 3A in the first prep basketball rankings of the year. They featured a strong inside game and quick guards.

I have to admit, it was strange not seeing Madalyn Jessepe, Kaitlyn Redman, Aneli Thomsen, McKenzie Dean or Payton Taylor on the CAC court.

The starting lineup against Eufaula for the very new-look Lady Cougars included senior Kalynn “KK” Daniels, junior Kaley Watkins, senior Taylor Porter, senior Madalyn Jaques and senior Mikayla Emarthle.

It was a super-competitive affair. When it was starters versus starters, each quarter was close, usually decided by a last-second possession.

“We had some good moments,” said Jennings. “Our defense has really improved during the scrimmage season.”

My initial thoughts:

• Ada should have the advantage in the post on most nights, with twin towers 5-10 Emarthle and 6-0 Jaques roaming around the paint.

• The new Ada guards are not afraid to shoot the 3-pointer. And that’s not a bad thing. It seemed like just about every 3-point shot that was taken was in the flow of the offense.

• Daniels has shrunk. She ran the show as the Cougars’ point guard and looked even shorter than she did last year. OK, maybe she really isn’t shorter, but she may be the smallest player on the court against every opponent Ada plays this year. She’s listed at five-foot even on the preseason roster. I think maybe Jennings rounded up. But that’s all right. Big things come in small packages.

There were a few rough patches on offense during the scrimmage, but those can be ironed out before the Lady Cougars tip off their 2017-18 schedule Dec. 5 at Heritage Hall. (After this Saturday’s Class 4A state championship football game between the Ada Cougars and the Heritage Hall Chargers, there very well could be some trash talking at that basketball contest).

Ada opens in the No. 17 spot in the Class 4A rankings.

“We have to improve offensively, and we also have to do a better job rebounding,” Jennings said. “I think at this point in November, most kids are just ready to play a real game. I thought at times, that is how we scrimmaged.”

Media Day for the Ada girls is at 3:30 p.m. today inside the Cougar Activity Center.

“This group will continue to work hard and develop their own identity. Once they do that, they have a chance to be very competitive.”

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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.