ADA — For more than half of Friday’s loser’s bracket contest with Choctaw at the East Central Oklahoma Basketball Classic, Ada coach Scott Lowrance talked.  In the fourth quarter, Cody Hibbard finally listened.

Hibbard, who took only four shots and didn’t score a point in the second and third quarters, erupted for 17 in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the Cougars to a tougher-than-expected 47-41 victory.

With the win, Ada advanced to Saturday’s consolation final against Shawnee, while Choctaw moved on to the seventh-place game against the Jenks junior varsity.

“I jumped on Cody the whole game about passing up shots,” said Lowrance, who coached Choctaw to a last-second victory over Ada in the tournament’s consolation final last season and saw his young squad improve to 2-4 with Friday’s victory. 

Hibbard, a junior whose brother, Sean, was one of the leaders of Ada’s 13-11 club last year (and one of four senior starters who graduated off that team), scored six first-quarter points, then missed his four 3-point attempts in the second and third periods.

But he scored eight of Ada’s 10 fourth-quarter points — including a clutch game-tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds left — and the first nine in an overtime period that saw the Cougars outscore Choctaw, 11-5.

“We have to have that kind of effort every night,” Lowrance said.  “We got the same kind of win against Ada last year when I was at Choctaw, and it was the turning point in our season.

“I think we’ll play a lot better after a win like this,” he added.  “I believe this team has taken a step to the next level.”

Until Hibbard’s late heroics, though, the Cougars appeared headed for potentially the most disappointing defeat in a season marked by narrow losses to good teams.

Choctaw, 1-6 after being blown out (63-29) by seventh-ranked Capitol Hill in Thursday’s opening round, didn’t have a field goal in the third quarter and managed only three baskets in the fourth but still equalled the biggest lead in regulation by either team at 33-29 when Matt Smith hit a pair of free throws with 1:59 to play. 

Ada tied the score on Ian Webster’s only bucket of the contest — a layup off a key offensive rebound — and a layup by Hibbard off an assist from freshman Colton Richardson in a one-minute span after Smith’s free throws, but Taylor McKinney put Choctaw on top, 35-33, on a layup with 40 seconds to play.  Then, less 14 seconds later, he had a chance to ice the game. 

After Hibbard missed a 3-pointer, Choctaw’s Ross Romero hit the first of two free throws with 30.4 seconds left to make it 36-33, and, after two offensive rebounds on the missed second shot, McKinney went to the line for two more free throws with 26.8 seconds remaining.  But he missed badly on his first, and his second was in and out, opening the door for Hibbard’s late heroics. 

Ada sophomore point guard Chaz Daniels, who didn’t score Friday but handed out a career-high 10 assists and added four steals, found Hibbard just in front of the Ada bench and a good five feet beyond the 3-point line, and Hibbard drained the shot to tie the game with 15 seconds left.  After a time out, Smith had an opportunity to win it for Choctaw, but he missed a 3-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer.

In overtime, Hibbard continued his assault on the Yellow Jackets. He rammed home an offensive rebound to give Ada the lead for good at 38-36, drained a trey off an assist from Michael Roberts to make it 41-36 with three minutes left, then, after a Choctaw free throw, he got another layup off a pinpoint Daniels pass at the 2:15 mark and closed out his remarkable run with a driving layup to give the Cougars a comfortable 45-37 advantage with just 1:42 to play.

Ada sleep-walked through the first half, leading by four points (9-5) late in the first quarter but trailing 22-20 at intermission.  The Cougars picked up their defensive intensity early in the second half, however, and, although the Ada offense continued to struggle, the defense held Choctaw to only four free throws in the third quarter.

McKinney hit one of two charity shots to tie the score at 26-all heading to the fourth, then Ada managed just one field goal — a 3-pointer by Hibbard with 5:48 left — until Webster got his putback at the 1:20 mark. 

Hibbard, who had six rebounds and a steal to go with his career-best 23 points, was the only Ada player to score in double figures, but Daniels (10 assists) and Richardson (11 rebounds) had double-figure efforts in other areas.  In addition, Steffan Jones came off the bench to score six of Ada’s eight points in the second quarter and finished with nine, Roberts had three steals and two assists to go with six points, and Webster’s offensive board for the key bucket in the fourth quarter was one of his three rebounds in the game.

McKinney, despite his missed free throws in the final seconds of regulation, led Choctaw with 13 points, but he was only 4-for-13 from the field and was the only Yellow Jacket with more than five points.

The Ada defense held Choctaw to 12 field goals in 40 attempts (and just 4-of-18 after intermission), and the Cougars hit a respectable 21-of-48 from the field, but they were just 2-of-8 from the free throw line.