Tom Bolitho, special corresponde
Ada Lady Cougar senior post Aaliyah Blakley poured in 16 points and senior guard Sami Jewett scored 14 to lead the Ada girls to a 53-42 East Central Oklahoma Classic first-round win over Newcastle Thursday night at the Ada Cougar Activity Center.
Junior swingman Olivia Wells chipped in 11, and senior guard Markeisha Black scored eight against a rough-and-tumble Newcastle squad.
“Newcastle is a much-improved team, and we knew they would pressure us,” Lady Cougar coach Christie Jennings said. “Newcastle is up-tempo and lots of physical play. They’re kind of all over the floor, and I thought we handled it well.”
Newcastle came out in a 2-3 zone designed to sag on Blakley whenever she got the ball. Despite the defensive pressure, Blakley put in six points, all on the inside, in the first quarter. Jewett finished the quarter with a 3-pointer, and Ada led 15-5.
Blakley sat out much of the second quarter with two fouls, and Newcastle made a little move. Senior Racer guard Katie Riojas started to find the range and hit a couple of nice driving layups in the quarter. Another Newcastle senior, Corbi Parasich, found points inside and out, including a long 3-pointer near the end of the half.
Ada sophomore guard Dembri Weeks came in to give the Lady Cougars a spark with a little driving layup and a couple of free throws. At half, Ada led 26-19.
The Lady Cougars, with Blakley back in the lineup, kept things even through the third quarter. The Lady Racers put on a press and things got a little wild. There was plenty of scrambling, and Jewett went flying out of bounds on a rough steal attempt by Lady Racer sophomore guard Aaliyah Endsley. Newcastle senior forward Sara Hamilton heated up in the second half, hitting several long-range threes and playing aggressive defense. Typical of the Newcastle squad, Hamilton was all over the floor and turned the ball over several times.
Ada senior forward Haley Dean got things going in the fourth with a nice assist to Wells and a block of a Hamilton shot. Blakley got a quick steal and hit Wells for a soft 10-footer. Newcastle turned the ball over several times, and Ada took good advantage in the fourth.
Jennings put Wells on Hamilton, and that cooled off the Lady Racer bomber. At the 3:40 mark, Blakley moved outside and hit a sweet 3-pointer that put the Lady Cougars up 48-34 and safely in control.
Ada guards Meneé Thomsen and Weeks scored two each to round out the scoring. Dean did not score but chipped in three assists and was a defensive force in the final quarter. Blakley led the Lady Cougars with eight rebounds. Weeks and Black had seven boards each, and Thomsen grabbed five caroms.