ADA — Six losses in his first nine games as Ada boys basketball coach have turned Scott Lowrance into a big-picture kinda guy.

“When you’re winning all the time, the breaks seem to go your way,” Lowrance said Friday night after the Cougars dropped a gut-wrenching — and bizarre — 35-31 decision to McAlester at the Cougar Activity Center. “Things are going against us right now, but as hard as we’re playing, they’re not going to be going against us for long.”

Neither team made a field goal in the final 7:20 of the game, and McAlester’s delay game milked almost six minutes off the clock in the second half, but the outcome was in doubt until Chaz Daniels’ bullet pass went through Ian Webster’s hands under the Buffaloes’ basket for Ada’s seventh and final turnover with 6.7 seconds to play and the Cougars trailing, 33-31. McAlester star Darrick Mathews — who scored a game-high 17 points but missed a layup with 1:25 left and the front end of a one-and-one with 22 seconds to play — was fouled with 5.6 seconds remaining and sank both free throws to finally put Lowrance’s club away.

“The kids played hard enough to win,” Lowrance said. “They were fighting, clawing and scratching all night.

“(McAlester) didn’t get much after the first quarter (which ended with the Buffaloes leading, 14-4),” he added. “If the ball bounces our way a couple of times, we win it.”

In the girls’ game, unbeaten McAlester (ranked No. 12 in Class 5A) held Ada (ranked No. 15) to a season-low 19 points — including just six in the second half — en route to a 29-19 decision that lacked any of the drama of the boys contest.

BOYS

McAlester 35, Ada 31

Ada — which trailed, 21-10, after a layup by Matt Collier (his only basket of the game) midway through the second quarter — never led, but the Cougars tied the game at 23-all on a layup by freshman Colton Richardson off a no-look pass from Michael Roberts with 5:20 left in the third period and trailed just 33-29 after Daniels hit the second of two free throws with 4:32 to play.

McAlester (5-4) then stalled off more than three minutes before Mathews drove to the basket and missed a layup at the 1:25 mark, and Richardson grabbed the rebound.

A 6-2 freshman who moved into the starting lineup when junior Billy Long was injured in a pre-Christmas traffic accident, Richardson was fouled with 1:05 left and sank both free throws to cut the lead to two, and, after the teams exchanged turnovers, Mathews was fouled with 22 seconds to play. He missed the free throw, however, and Roberts grabbed the rebound. After an Ada time out with 13.4 seconds remaining, Daniels knifed into the lane and rifled a point-blank pass that seemed to surprise Webster under the basket and went through his hands and out of bounds to set up Mathews’ game-clinching free throws.

McAlester, which handed Class 4A No. 3 Broken Bow its only loss but came into Friday’s contest with a three-game losing streak, dominated the opening quarter and held the Cougars without a field goal in the period after Daniels drained a 3-pointer with 5:55 left and Ada already down 7-0.

Mathews scored 10 of his 17 points in the opening quarter on 4-of-6 shooting, and his 3-pointer with four seconds left gave the Buffs their 10-point advantage heading to the second.

After Collier gave his club its biggest lead of the game, Ada’s Cody Hibbard hit a 3-pointer from the corner (his only field goal of the night) to trim the margin to 21-13 and launch an 8-1 Cougar run that also featured three free throws and an assist (on a Richardson layup) by Webster, who had another solid effort off the bench in the loss.

Grant Zellner, who scored 12 points for McAlester, hit a free throw to make it 23-18 at halftime, and, after Richardson accounted for the first five points of the third quarter — on a 3-pointer just 28 seconds in and his layup two minutes later — to tie the game, the Buffs led by four points twice more in the quarter before a 3-point play by Ada sophomore Steffan Jones cut it to 29-28 heading to the fourth.

Mathews hit a 3-pointer from the corner just 40 seconds into the final period to extend McAlester’s lead to four, but the Buffaloes took only two shots (both by Mathews) the rest of the way, and Ada managed only three free throws and three unsuccessful field goal attempts in the period.

Richardson led Ada with 10 points and six rebounds, and, although Roberts and Hibbard — the Cougars’ two leading scorers for the season — managed just six points (on a combined 2-for-13 shooting), Jones and Webster sparkled off the bench once again. Jones hit all three of his field goal attempts to finish with seven points, and Webster’s five second-quarter points keyed Ada’s comeback from the early double-digit deficit.

McAlester was 12-for-28 from the field and scored only 12 second-half points, but Ada hit just 9-of-29 from the field and managed only three free throws in the final 10:47 of the game.

“Our defense is getting better all the time,” Lowrance said “We made some adjustments after the first quarter, and we took away the easy baskets they were getting.”

Friday’s setback was the fifth tough loss already this season for the Cougars, who were beaten earlier by Class 2A No. 3 Wewoka (twice), Broken Bow and Shawnee after making things close in the second half. Ada has been manhandled only once — in a 13-point loss to 6A Sand Springs on Jan. 5 in the opening round of the East Central Oklahoma Basketball Classic.

“We’re 3-6, but we’ve only been outscored by 28 points, and 13 of those were to Sand Springs,” Lowrance noted. “Not many young teams have had as many chances in the fourth quarter as we’ve had this season. We’re growing up in a hurry because of these games.”

GIRLS

McAlester 29, Ada 19

McAlester (9-0) had just 11 field goals and went 6-for-13 from the free throw line but took advantage of an Ada offense that managed just one field goal — a layup by Jennifer Cross with 1:05 to play — in the final 13 minutes of the game.

“We’ve got to find a way to score,” Ada coach Jeff Maloy said after seeing his club fall to 6-3 on the season. “We’ve got to hit some of the shots we missed and cut back on the turnovers and find another weapon.”

Ada trailed, 9-0, with 3:35 left in the first quarter but tied the scored at 17-all when Jenny Bolin drove the baseline for a layup (her only shot of the game) with 4:55 remaining in the third period.

The Lady Cougars — who were 9-of-26 from the field overall — missed their final five shots in the quarter, however, to fall behind, 25-17, heading to the fourth, and Ada took only two shots (both by Megan Foley) in the first seven minutes of the final period before Cross’s layup.

Joy Barrick led Ada with six points, while Foley had a game-high six rebounds and two blocked shots but managed just four points (on 2-of-7 shooting). Junior Molly Maloy — the team’s leading scorer for the season — hit just one of her eight field goal attempts (a trey from the corner to beat the first-quarter buzzer and pull Ada to within two at 9-7) and finished with three points.

“My best options right now are Foley and (Lauren) Whitworth on the inside and Molly from the outside, and when they shut those down, we struggle,” Maloy said. “We’re looking for a way to score and we’re looking for chemistry. We need another 15-foot jump shooter to open up the floor.”

Kyla Adams scored four of McAlester’s nine points in the first quarter and all four of the Lady Buffs’ points in the final period and finished with a game-high nine points, and Jaci Bigham added seven but went only 2-for-9 from the field in the win.