Just when things looked like they couldn’t get much worse for Jeff Maloy’s offense...they did.

Maloy, whose Ada Lady Cougars scored a total of 76 points in their last two games in the East Central Oklahoma Basketball Classic (a win over Edmond North and a loss to Choctaw) and Friday’s night’s lackluster 29-19 home loss to McAlester, lost arguably his best outside shooter late last week when senior guard Caitlin Patrizi quit the team.

“Caitlin didn’t think she was helping the team, and she wanted to move on,” Maloy said, adding that Patrizi — who suffered an off-season knee injury and had lost her starting job to sophomore Jenny Bolin — was going to concentrate on soccer.

With Patrizi gone, the 6-3 Lady Cougars — who had only one field goal in the final 13 minutes of Friday night’s loss — have only one legitimate 3-point threat in junior Molly Maloy (the coach’s daughter), who was only 1-for-8 from beyond the arc against McAlester. Maloy said he is already looking for another shooter to take up the slack.

“(Sophomore) Taylor Howard, (junior) Eliza Van Horn, (freshman) Katelyn Carter and (freshman) Shelbey Franz all have possibilities, and I’m hoping one of those four can give us some offense when we’re getting it nowhere else,” said Maloy, who is the only coach the Ada girls program has had since the Lady Cougars switched from 6-on-6 to five-man basketball in 1992.

Ada had rebounded from a season-opening loss to Wewoka to win five straight games before dropping two of three, and, although the Lady Cougars reached the title game of the East Central Classic, they managed just 30 points in a three-point victory over Edmond North in the semifinals and were held to 27 points by Choctaw in the title game.

Patrizi’s loss is the second to hit the Ada basketball program since the season began and the latest in a rash of player defections from teams expected to be powers in the area.

Ada center Billy Long, who had a 25-point, 12-rebound effort against Wewoka in December, suffered two broken collarbones and a broken right arm in a Dec. 23 traffic accident in Oklahoma City and is lost for the season, and, although freshman Colton Richardson has played well in Long’s spot, the hole left by the 6-4 junior center won’t be easy to fill on a team that has just two seniors on the roster.

Byng’s Lady Pirates have suffered through the area’s longest and strangest succession of personnel losses this season, after a breakout 23-7 campaign a year ago that saw Joe Neely’s club reach the area finals before being eliminated by Idabel.

The Lady Pirates lost last season’s top two scorers — senior Kelsey Harris and sophomore Katie Campbell — and sophomore Brooke Harris before the season began, and senior starters Kara Byers and Ashley Carrethers were dropped from the team late last week. With Byers gone, Neely had only two starters — forward Whitney Harris and guard Kelsey Williamson — on the floor for Friday’s loss to Konawa remaining from the team that ended the 2004-2005 season.

“It leaves me with a group of girls who are wanting to play and who are giving me great effort every day in practice,” said Neely, whose club has lost seven of its 10 games since a 3-0 start and visits rival Latta Monday night. “The kids I still have are very attentive and want to be successful.

“It was just a tough week,” Neely added. “Cila Dunigan lost her brother, Logan Needham’s grandfather died, and we lost two of our seniors.”

Brooke Harris, who tore up her right ankle sliding into second base in a fall softball playoff game, has only recently returned to practice, and she played about a quarter against Konawa Friday. Her return could go a long way toward easing the pain from Neely’s other losses.

“Brooke’s not 100 percent, but she’s at the point where she can give us some minutes,” Neely said of Harris, who showed a lot of promise coming off the bench as a freshman last season. She’s just not ready to plan an entire game yet.”

At Stratford, the 11-1 Bulldogs — winners of 10 straight games and ranked No. 18 in Class A — are one team playing well despite critical personnel losses. Stratford has continued to win without Ryan Stone (the team’s starting center and, at 6-4, its tallest player), who moved to Caddo, and David Stoliby (who is being home-schooled), but coach Mark Qualls — who now has only nine players on his roster — said it is only a matter of time before the numbers game catches up with his squad.

“We only had eight players in uniform for Maysville (in a 99-49 victory Friday night), and we had one day last week when we practiced with just six because a couple of kids were sick,” Qualls said. “It really hurts to lose a couple of players, especially at a school our size. The depth issue is a killer.”

Despite being outsized by almost every opponent, the Bulldogs have put up some big numbers on the scoreboard, even with their small numbers on the bench. Stratford held the ball late in Friday’s win to keep the score under 100 points, but junior Garan Qualls (the coach’s son) had 30 points (the fourth time this season he has scored 30 or more points in a game) and eight rebounds in the victory and is averaging about 26 points per game for the season, and the Bulldogs’ other two remaining starters — T. J. Gaines (26 points and 13 rebounds) and Jeremy Lavorchek — combined for 46 more against Maysville.

Stratford faces its toughest test of the season Friday, when New Lima — 16-2 and ranked No. 6 in Class A — comes to town, and Qualls said his depleted roster could be a factor in the showdown with the Falcons.

“I don’t know if we can stay on the floor with New Lima,” Qualls noted. “Before (the loss of Stone and Stoliby), I was confident. It’s not like either of them was an all-state player, but they were solid role players. I don’t cry about who’s NOT here, though.”

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