The Ada Lady Cougars simply couldn’t finish what they started.
After dominating the Lady Savages for much of the first half, Ada cooled down in the second half and Tecumseh used a huge fourth quarter and a big night a the free throw line to steal a 54-48 victory Friday night inside the Cougar Activity Center.
In the boys game, high-powered Tecumseh (No. 11 in Class 4A) broke open a close game in the third quarter and wore down Ada 60-41.
Tecumseh 54, Ada 48
The Lady Cougars appeared to be in mid-season form in the first half and were probably a play or two from turning the game into a rout.
With the game tied at 9-9, Walling hit three long jumpers — the first appeared to be a 3-pointer but was ruled a two after a conference by the three officials — Brooke Butler drained a 3-pointer from the corner and Andie Jewett scored on a putback during an 11-1 run that put the hosts on top 20-10 early in the second quarter.
A Charlesey YoungWolfe 3-pointer with 5:15 left in the second period gave Ada an 11-point lead at 24-13. The Lady Cougars had hit nine of their first 12 field goal attempts to that point.
But Tecumseh stayed within striking distance by hitting four of their five 3-pointers in the game in the second period. The final one, by post player Montana Rickey, cut the Ada lead to 26-22 with just over two minutes left before halftime.
Walling scored the final four points of the quarter via a pair of free throws and a fast-break bucket started by a steal and assist from Kristina Gonzalez that gave the Lady Cougars a 30-22 lead at intermission.
Another mid-range jumper from Walling and a basket inside off an inbounds pass from YoungWolfe by Jewett gave Ada it’s biggest lead of the game, 34-22, at the 5:25 mark of the third period.
“I thought we played as good of a first half as we could play,” said Ada head coach Michelle Shannon.
Ada then went ice cold and didn’t hit another field goal for the rest of the third quarter (finishing 2-of-12 in that eight-minute span).
Rickey scored nine points in a 13-2 Tecumseh run that saw the Lady Savages get within 36-35 with 7:45 to play in the game.
The game went back and forth for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter with Tecumseh grabbing its first lead of the game (42-40) on a pair of free throws by Devan Harris with 5:12 left. But freshman Sami Jewett, who wasn’t even on the Lady Cougars pre-game roster, hit a free throw 11 seconds later, came up with a steal and fed to Walling that led to a conventional three-point play that put Ada back on top 44-42 with 4:15 to play.
Ada wouldn’t score again until Walling hit a basket despite Tecumseh’s best effort at a double team that got the Lady Cougars within a single point at 47-46. But the Lady Savages hit 10-of-12 free throws in the final 2:18 to keep Ada at bay.
In fact, Tecumseh lived by the free throw in the second half, hitting 19-of-24 and finishing 21-of-26 overall.
“The second half, we didn’t control the tempo and didn’t have good clock management,” Shannon said. “We took too many quick shots, and then started putting them on the free throw line at the other end.”
The loss put a damper on a strong opener by Walling, who finished with a game-high 28 points, including an 8-of-9 showing from the charity stripe.
No other Ada player reached double digits but Andie Jewett and YoungWolfe added seven points each.
Rickey led Tecumseh (2-0) with 23 points, hitting 10-of-11 free throws and yanking down a game-high eight rebounds. Sutv Meeley just missed double digits with nine while Taylor Poncho added eight for the visitors.
Tecumseh 60, Ada 41
The game was close for the first five minutes, but after Nick Anderson’s bucket and free throw got the Cougars within 10-9 at the 3:05 mark of the first quarter, Tecumseh reeled off 12 unanswered points to take control of the contest at 22-9.
Tecumseh led by 4 at 33-19 late in the second quarter, but Nathan Blakely hit a jumper and Austin Peteet drained a 3-pointer in the final minute to pull the Cougars within nine at 33-24 at the break. And it could have been much closer, but Ada went just 6-of-14 from the free throw line during the first 16 minutes.
“If we make some free throws we’re right there in the mix and even down nine, I felt like we were right there,” Ada boys coach Ron Anderson said. “We came out really fired up. We competed better in that first half than we have any time in the two years since I’ve been here. And part of that might be all those football players. I think coach (Matt) Weber does a great job of teaching them to compete and that showed in the game.”
Tecumseh, using an array of weapons all night long, finished the third quarter with a 14-4 surge and carried a 52-32 lead into the final eight minutes.
“They’re a great team and they were making shots. We’re contesting sometimes and they’re making shots over us. Then we’d go a little too far out and they’d go around us. They’re just a very good team that is well-coached,” Anderson said.
The Ada coach said his squad, which included a number of football players, isn’t in top basketball shape just yet.
“We have to get in better condition. It looked like we ran out of gas maybe even at the end of the first half. I’ve got to do a better job of rotating players in and out and certainly we’ve got to get in better shape,” he said. “But I thought we did some good things tonight that we can build on.”
Nick Anderson, Ada’s senior leader, finished with 16 points to lead all scorers while center Paxton Kilby added nine.
Kevin Hill, who scored on numerous drives to the basket, hit seven of his first eight field goals to finish with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Francisco Hukill and Trey Dorsey added 13 and 12 points to the balanced Savage attack. Dorsey also had five steals.
Both Ada teams will take a week off before Duncan visits the Cougar Activity Center Friday night.