EDMOND — The Ada Lady Cougars just thought they had experienced playoff excitement in their regional tournament overtime loss to Duncan last weekend.

As it turned out, they hadn’t seen anything yet.

No. 11 Ada got huge performances out of two of its youngest members and clutch plays by senior Joy Barrick that enabled them to finally turn back 14th-ranked El Reno 48-46 in a breathtaking, four-overtime doozy late Thursday night in the Class 5A Area Tournament at Edmond Santa Fe High School.

“We’re going back late, but happy,” a tickled Ada head coach Jeff Maloy said.

Ada improved to 19-6 and will battle No. 12 John Marshall Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Norman High School for the right to compete in next week’s Class 5A State Tournament. The Lady Trojans were sent to the consolation side of the bracket via a 62-41 setback to No. 5 Woodward in the early 5A Area title game at Santa Fe.

As exciting games go, Ada’s slugfest with El Reno was off the charts.

The Lady Cougars escaped with the narrow victory despite leading scorers Molly Maloy and an ill Lauren Whitworth finishing with a combined two points. Maloy is averaging 11.6 points per game this year while Whitworth follows at 8.4.

In fact, Maloy — who didn’t attempt a shot in the first half — tossed up a hurried 3-point shot midway through the third quarter before scoring a fast-break basket for Ada with 28 seconds left in the fourth and final overtime. After El Reno’s Aubrey Blackwolf missed a free throw with 37.4 ticks showing, Barrick tracked down the rebound, pushed the ball upcourt and found Maloy behind the Lady Indian defense for the layup that put the locals on top 44-43.

“They shut Molly down and we had some other kids step up and make some big baskets. They did a good job of denying Molly the ball,” Maloy said.

The thrills weren’t quite over yet.

After a walking violation on El Reno standout Jaclyn Rhoades during an attempted drive down the lane, Barrick made the first of two free throws to give the Lady Cougars a two-point edge. After missing the second charity toss, Barrick hustled and grabbed her own rebound.

Ada used a timeout with 20 ticks left and got the ball inbounds to Clark, who was fouled and sent to the charity stripe with :18.7 showing. She made both free throws to put Ada on top 47-43.

Rhoads had an answer, completing a 3-point play when she got a tough leaner along the baseline to roll in and was fouled on the play with just 7.2 seconds left to make it 47-46.

Barrick again made 1-of-2 free throws with 5.4 remaining to give Ada a two-point lead.

Rhoades went for the win as time was running out, but her off-balance 3-pointer from NBA range was well off the mark. A mild case of pandemonium then ensued.

“I hated to see anybody leave losing this game. Both teams fought really hard. El Reno is well-coached. They played us really well,” Maloy said. “I give them a lot of credit. It was up-and-down and at any time one of the teams could quit and neither one did.”

Things looked the bleakest for Ada toward the end of the third overtime period.

After Clark and Rhoades exchanged baskets to start OT No. 3, the El Reno star gave the Indians a 41-39 advantage on one of her many short turnaround jumpers from the baseline with 1:17 to play.

The Lady Cougars would then milk the clock before turning the ball over with 18.9 seconds left.

Ada needed to commit three fouls to put El Reno in the bonus and send an ERHS player to the free throw line. After two not-so-quick fouls, the Indians (13-12) needed only to inbound the ball with just 4.5 seconds showing to have a good shot at icing the game from the stripe.

But Barrick had other ideas. She stepped in front of the inbounds pass and bolted down the floor to hit a layup in traffic as time expired.

“I don’t know how she got the ball. We were denying the inbounds, but we didn’t expect her to get it and drive in for a layup. It was a big play. But that’s what a senior should do and she did it,” Maloy said.

Barrick offered only this explanation.

“I WANTED it,” she said.

Each overtime period had its own drama. In the second OT period, Howard scored on a strong baseline move to the basket, was fouled and hit free throw to put the Lady Cougars ahead 37-34.

After Barrick couldn’t put the game away with a free throw with 35 seconds left, El Reno got a 3-pointer by Tana Ramsey with just nine ticks left to tie the game and force another extra frame.

In the first (and most uneventful) overtime, the two teams scored just two points each. Rhoads scored early and Clark followed with a pair of free throws at the 2:42 mark.

The Lady Cougars trailed by six heading into the fourth quarter. But Ada countered with a 10-2 run that ended with back-to-back triples by Howard — the second with just 7.2 seconds remaining to put AHS on top 32-30.

“I was glad that I was able to give Howard some playing minutes late in the year. She looked comfortable. She didn’t look like a freshman out there tonight,” Maloy said.

After El Reno called time out with 5.5 to play, Ramsey sank an 18-footer just before the buzzer went off to knot the score at 32-32 at the end of regulation.

During an El Reno 17-8 second-quarter surge, the Lady Indians twice built seven-point leads. But a Barrick layup as time ran out in the first half shaved the AHS deficit to 19-14 at the break.

Clark’s outstanding effort included a team-high 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting. She also went 4-of-4 from the free throw line and had a team-high six rebounds and a pair of steals. Howard scored a season-high 13 points to go with four rebounds and two takeaways.

“Howard hit some big baskets, Barrick hit some big baskets, Clark scored on some big drives. It was just a team effort,” Maloy said.

Whitworth — and her post partner Megan Foley — didn’t see much action as Maloy opted to have the Lady Cougars play “small” ball.

“Their small lineup gave us trouble. They have some 3-point shooters and their post player was as quick as our guards. With Whitworth being sick, we went most of the night to a small lineup,” Maloy explained.

The Lady Cougars must now turn their attention to a very athletic John Marshall squad in their bid to earn a trip to the 5A State Tournament.

“I don’t know if we’ll get there this year, but we’re one game away and we have a shot,” Maloy.

A shot thanks to a number of gigantic ones by the Lady Cougars in Thursday’s most memorable victory.

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