Tom Bolitho, special corresponde
Ada Cougar standout Cory Kilby drained 18 points, senior shooting guard Walker Whitworth hit for 13 and the Cougars played their best defensive game of the season to down 6A Choctaw 48-35 Thursday night in the first round of the East Central Oklahoma Classic.
A tall and active Choctaw team simply could not solve the Cougar defense, particularly in the first half, when the Yellowjackets could manage only nine points.
“This was an outstanding performance,” Cougar coach Ron Anderson said. “This was a good win against a good team. We held our turnovers down, and the guys put out great effort on defense. If we keep up this kind of effort, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Ada senior David Forbes, a 6-7 post, scored both inside and out and contributed nine points. Junior guard Jamal Henderson had an excellent performance, scoring seven and consistently challenging the Yellowjacket defense. Sophomore point guard Jermaine Lawson hit a free throw and handled the ball with poise throughout the game.
Choctaw simply could not get anything going against the Cougar man-to-man defense in the first quarter, scoring only three points. Ada junior guard Tryce Prince entered the game in the first quarter, and his speed and athleticism were immediately obvious when he grabbed a steal, followed by a Forbes 3-pointer. Forbes blocked two shots in the quarter and Kilby one. Henderson hit a nice 3-pointer off a Lawson assist, and Ada was rolling.
Choctaw kept trying a pick-and-roll from the top of the key with 6-3 senior Dylan Bradley, but the Cougar defense stopped it every time.
Most of Kilby’s points came inside on turnarounds, soft jumpers, jump hooks and two dunks. The talented junior had his way in the lane. Forbes and Whitworth kept the Yellowjacket defense honest outside, and the combination proved very effective. The halftime score was 25-9.
Choctaw instituted a press in the second half and started to figure out Ada’s switching defense inside. The Yellowjackets’ 6-8 senior post, Jake Seagraves, started to take advantage of the mismatches, and his soft touch led Choctaw’s 26 second-half points. The Yellowjackets also began launching numerous 3-pointers, particularly from junior guard Hunter Gomez, but the percentage wasn’t very good. Kilby hit a thunderous dunk with less than a minute in the third, and Whitworth hit a last-second three for a 39-22 lead.
Choctaw displayed good effort in the fourth but couldn’t close the gap. Bradley and Seagraves began posting up low with some success. But Whitworth hit a crucial 3-pointer off a Lawson assist at the 3:05 mark, and Ada cruised home.
“Jermaine and Jamal really stepped it up tonight,” Anderson said. “And Tryce is so competitive and brings so much energy. He is giving us great minutes. Walker is really finding his shot and hitting at key times.”