Nothing like watching the Ada Lady Cougars and Byng Lady Pirates square off for 40 minutes of preseason scrimmage action to officially tip off the 2006-07 local basketball season.

A handful of small schools open the season for real Friday night, but Thursday the girls squads from Ada and Byng met at the Cougar Activity Center for a good fall workout.

And while both Ada’s Michelle Shannon and Byng’s Joe Neely have more than a few wrinkles to iron out before their seaon-openers (Ada host Wewoka Dec. 5, and Byng travels to Plainview Nov. 21, football permitting), both could take plenty of positives out of the scrimmages.

And believe it or not, it was a pair of fast-pitch softball players who stole the show for both local hoop teams.

On Ada’s side, Shannon had to love what she saw from 5-11 transfer student Ellen Estabrooks, who showed tons of upside during the workouts. If she continues to improve, the former Latta athlete will make a nice complement to Ada center Lauren Whitworth, a proven force in the post for the Lady Cougars. Estabrooks was strong on the boards against Byng and scored four points in both the second and fourth quarters. And Ada won both of those frames (10 minutes each with a running clock) by identical 10-2 counts.

(By the way, it should be noted that Estabrooks might have gotten more playing time against Byng thanks to Whitworth's absence. What was the talented junior’s excuse for missing the scrimmage? She had tickets to Game 4 of the World Series in St. Louis — a MUCH better excuse than 'the dog ate my gym shorts'.)

Estabrooks will also be Ada’s pitching ace on the softball field as a senior in 2007.

“She definitely has the potential to help us out,” Shannon said. “She’s still got a lot to learn just because she’s new to the system. And she has to get in basketball shape because she didn’t play at all last year.”

Meanwhile, senior Britney Lee — who mowed down the competition from the mound this fall — was at the top of her game the entire time she was on the floor against Ada.

She hit long-range jumpers (even a 3-pointer), played good post defense and showed the ability to score from all over the court and looked good doing it. Lee scored four points in the third quarter, helping Byng win that frame 11-7.

Lee showed flashes of this type of brilliance last year, but didn’t do it on a consistent basis.

And Neely agreed that Lee was impressive Thursday afternoon.

“You’re exactly right. We thought she had the potential to do this last year. We expect big things from B-Lee,” Neely said.

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A special thanks to area basketball coaches for supplying the preseason information printed on pages 5B and 6B.

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