NORMAN — When John Marshall’s taller, older Lady Bears rallied to take a 39-37 lead with 5:46 to play in Saturday’s Class 5A area consolation final, Ada’s young Lady Cougars could have wilted.

But they didn’t.

When John Marshall answered a 4-0 Ada run with a game-tying basket by Janissa Harris with 2:25 left, the Lady Cougars could simply have mailed in the remainder of the game and called it a good season that ended just one win short of the state tournament.

But they didn’t.

And when Ada’s only senior starter, Joy Barrick, fouled out with 1:44 to play and the Lady Cougars clinging to a 43-42 lead, the Lady Bears could finally have taken control.

But they didn’t.

Jourdan Clark wouldn’t let them.

Clark, a freshman point guard who can take over a game like few 5-4 players in the state, scored 12 of her career-high 24 points in the fourth quarter — including eight in the final four minutes — to lead the Lady Cougars to a 53-42 victory and into Ada’s ninth state tournament in Jeff Maloy’s 14 seasons as head coach.

Maloy’s mix-and-match line-up, which began with five guards and changed constantly with the flow of the game, outscored John Marshall 16-3 after the Lady Bears (who finished the season 17-9) rallied from nine points down (29-20) midway through the third quarter to take their only lead of the second half on Brittney Brown’s 3-pointer from the corner just 2:14 into the final period.

Clark answered Brown’s bucket with a steal (her fourth of the game) and, after being fouled, sank two free throws to tie the score with 4:01 left, and she put Ada on top 41-39 with a layup off an assist from fellow freshman Taylor Howard with 2:45 to play.

Harris tied the score for the last time on a layup 20 seconds later, but Molly Maloy put Ada (20-6) on top for good with a layup at the 2:13 mark, and, after Vanessa Moore — John Marshall’s 6-1 center — hit one of two free throws to pull the Lady Bears to within a point, Megan Foley drained a 14-footer from just inside the free throw line to give the Lady Cougars some breathing room at 45-42.

Howard grabbed her game-high ninth rebound when Me-Me Buford missed a 3-pointer on John Marshall’s next possession and got the ball to Clark, who was fouled again and made both free throws to put Ada up by five with 47.6 seconds left and start a streak of eight straight (four by Clark and two each by Jenny Bolin and Foley) by the Lady Cougars to close the game.

“Ten straight free throws in the fourth quarter ... what else do I need to say?” Maloy said when asked for a comment on Clark’s performance. “Jourdan played a great game, but I’ve got seven kids right now who are interchangeable and allow us to attack teams in different ways.”

But the constants in the Ada rotation all day were Clark — who hit four of her last five field goal attempts and her last 13 free throws in a row — and Molly Maloy, who rebounded from her two-point effort in Thursday’s quadruple overtime win over El Reno with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting.

Despite the size of the John Marshall front line (Harris and and the 5-10 Monroe), Maloy started the game without Foley (a 6-1 junior who led Ada in scoring last season) and 5-10 sophomore Lauren Whitworth, who had a streak of eight straight games scoring in double figures before the Lady Cougars’ loss to Duncan in the regional title game, in the lineup.

“I wanted to go little, because I didn’t want their press to hurt us,” said Maloy, who saw his club dominate the boards 31-20 despite having five guards (Maloy, Clark, Barrick, Howard and sophomore Jenny Bolin) on the floor for most of the game. “One reason Barrick was sitting next to me at the end was because she was guarding a six-footer (Monroe) most of the game.

“I can put them in good situations, but it usually comes down to somebody stepping up and making a play,” he added. “Late in the year, it’s been more about kids stepping up and making plays than about anything I’ve been doing.”

Neither team generated much offense in a first quarter that ended with Ada up 8-6 and the game was tied at 15-all before Maloy and Clark drained 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds of the half to put the Lady Cougars up by six at intermission.

Ada’s lead grew to nine on Whitworth’s only basket of the game (a putback of an offensive rebound with 4:12 left in the third quarter), but John Marshall scored nine of the final 13 points in the period to pull to within four at 33-29.

The Lady Cougars still led by four (37-33) after Clark made two free throws (following an offensive rebound by Bolin) with 6:33 to play, then English McLamore and Brown hit 3-pointers in the span of 32 seconds to give John Marshall its final lead of the game.

Clark and Maloy were the only two Lady Cougars in double figures, but every member of Maloy’s Kiddie Corps who saw action made a contribution.

Barrick scored only four points, but she had two assists and was part of a defensive effort that held the Lady Bears to just 14 field goals in 37 attempts; Whitworth had one key basket and two rebounds in her shortest stint in more than a month; Foley came off the bench to score six points and added five rebounds, two blocked shots and two assists; Howard had two points, two steals and an assist to go with her nine rebounds; and Bolin had four rebounds and two points.

Harris finished with 13 points and Monroe, McLamore and Buford had seven apiece for John Marshall.

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