Ada boys coach Ron Anderson had to like the way the game started out against Class 5A No. 13 Shawnee Monday night inside the Cougar Activity Center.
Walker Whitworth was unconscious for Ada during a first quarter that saw the Cougar sharpshooter hit four straight catch-and-shoot 3-pointers during a 5-for-5 showing from the field that produced 14 of his team’s 20 points. Meanwhile, Shawnee star Trey Maston didn’t get on the scoreboard as Ada led 20-18 heading into the second period.
But Whitworth wouldn’t even have another field goal attempt until there was just 3:10 left, and he didn’t score again until his conventional three-point play following a steal with only 47.1 seconds remaining. By that time, Maston had exploded for a game-high 27 points to lead the Wolves to a 67-53 victory.
Shawnee, coached by veteran Ron Arthur, improved to 10-11 on the year while Ada (No. 20 in Class 4A) slipped to 12-10 heading into a Class 4A District Tournament matchup with McLoud Saturday night at the Cougar Activity Center.
Anderson said Shawnee’s trapping, pressure defense proved to be the difference. Ada finished with 17 turnovers.
“Coach Arthur does such an outstanding job ... with the defense that they play and the trapping that they do. They generated a lot of turnovers,” Anderson said. “Where they win games is on defense. Their defense may be their best offense. They’re not a great team. They’re a team you can beat, but with 17 turnovers you can’t. We didn’t guard them all that well either.”
The game was tight throughout the first half. Cory Kilby’s dunk that turned into a three-point play at the 3:20 mark of the second period put Ada on top 27-23.
Shawnee scored nine of the next 10 points in the game — including a 3-pointer by Maston — to surge ahead at 32-28. The Wolves carried a 34-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Maston hit back-to-back triples to open the third quarter to put Shawnee ahead 40-29. After Ada had pulled within 40-33 on a pair of free throws by Tryce Prince, six straight points by the Wolves (four more by Maston) gave them a 13-point edge.
Ada again clawed to within eight at 50-42 heading into the final period after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from David Forbes. But after a 3-pointer by Maston with 5:11 left made it 56-44, Ada never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Maston would finish with six 3-pointers and five of his team’s 12 steals. Don Murphy added 12 points off the bench for Shawnee, including a 6-of-9 effort from the free throw line.
Kilby scored 14 of his team-high 23 points in the second half and contributed 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. Whitworth added 17 points, while Forbes finished with seven points and Prince rounded out the scoring with six.
“We played hard. Our depth is not good, so that makes is hard for us to play that hard all the time,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he is looking forward to guiding the Cougars on a playoff run.
“This is a new season. Everybody is 0-0,” he said. “We’re so close. We’ve said this all year long. We’ll just have to be a little bit smarter and play to our strengths from here on out.”
Ada disposed of district foe McLoud 63-49 back in December at the Global Production Solutions Classic in Bethel.
"McLoud will come in here and try to trick us with something, knowing that’s what they have to do to have a chance to beat us,” Anderson predicted. “We had them down 30 at the Bethel Tournament. He’s (coach Joshua Laney) not going to let us do the same thing we did last time.”
A win over the Redskins would mean a regional tournament matchup with Bethel or Checotah, with No. 1 Victory Christian likely awaiting in the regional championship contest at Checotah.
“Last year I wasn’t all that happy with our draw, and we were one game away from state. This year, I like going east to play teams that might not know us all that well,” he said. “If we take care of business, then we’ll end up having to play the No. 1 team in the state.”
No. 6 Fort Gibson is the highest-ranked team on the other side of the bracket that also includes No. 16 Roland and No. 19 Broken Bow.
“This road in 4A and under is a beast,” said Anderson, who also coached Ada in Class 5A. “You have to win a lot of games and if you lose, you really put yourself behind the eight ball."