The new-look youthful Ada High girls basketball team had some things that didn’t go their way in a season-opening matchup with old rival McAlester Friday night inside the Cougar Activity Center.
• Ada had three freshmen start their first varsity game.
• The Lady Cougars committed 21 turnovers.
• The team missed 14 free throws.
• Tatum Havens, one of the Ada freshman starters, banked in a 3-pointer for the first bucket of the game, got into quick foul trouble and spent a ton of time on the bench.
• Senior Kaley Watkins — who head coach Christie Jennings hadn’t planned to play to give a preseason ankle injury more time to heal — was inserted into the game in the third quarter for her leadership skills.
However, despite it all, the 15th-ranked Lady Cougars defeated No. 20 McAlester 50-41.
“I thought we beat a pretty good McAlester team in a pretty physical game,” Jennings said. “I think any win this year is something we’re really going to celebrate just because of our age. Every one of these experiences is going to be new to most of these kids. It’s going to be a learning process.”
The Lady Cougars had 10 turnovers in the first 11 minutes of the game and that aided in McAlester grabbing a 14-9 lead early in the second quarter.
“They were really nervous. It was funny. Our other two starters, Dixie (Redman) and Landyn (Owens), both have had a lot of playing time and they were so amped up they were making the freshmen more nervous,” Jennings said.
Ada trailed 24-23 at halftime but came out cooking in the third quarter. Owens hit a pair of free throws and a jumper to start an 8-0 run. Freshman Amaya Frizell knifed down the lane for a bucket and Watkins drained two free shots to put the Lady Cougars on top 31-24 at the 3:04 mark of the third period.
McAlester, now 1-1, got off to a 0-for-11 start from the field during that stretch.
“Kaley’s not 100 percent yet, but I had to put her in because we got into some foul trouble and she was also pretty calm with the basketball,” Jennings said.
McAlester ended the quarter on a 6-1 spurt — including a 3-pointer by Elizabeth Milligan — and got within 33-30 heading into the fourth frame. The Lady Cougars missed six free throws late in the third that could have helped ice the game.
MHS 6-4 post player Hope Johnson scored inside to get the visitors within 35-33 at the 6:27 mark of the fourth quarter, but the Lady Cougars used another 8-0 surge to build their first double-digit lead.
Redman scored five points during the run — a 3-pointer and two free throws. Frizell got free inside for an easy basket off a nice feed from Redman and added a free shot of her own and the hosts led 43-33 with 3:29 remaining.
McAlester never got closer than seven the rest of the way. Ada outscored the Lady Buffs 17-11 in the final period.
Owens scored 16 points to lead all players, while Frizell had a strong Lady Cougar debut with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Shayla Wofford, a 6-1 freshman, struggled from the field in first varsity game but hit 3-of-4 free throws and grabbed 11 rebounds. Despite her 5-4 frame, Redman hustled for eight boards of her own.
McAlester got 14 points and 11 rebounds from Erin Kelley. Mckenzie Atherton followed with seven points, six rebounds and a pair of steals.
Ada boys bounce Buffaloes early
Sophomore Jaxson Robinson got cooking early and the Ada High boys basketball team — ranked No. 8 in Class 5A — cruised to a 55-45 victory over McAlester in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score might indicate.
Robinson scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the first half to help Ada rush out to leads of 18-7 and 31-12.
The Cougars sank 7-of-11 field goals to start the game and after Cody Smith drained a 3-pointer and Trey Havens hit a long two-point shot, Ada had forged a 20-9 advantage late in the first quarter.
Robinson hit one of his four first-half, 3-point shots at the 3:13 mark of the second quarter to give Ada a 17-point lead.
The Cougars went to halftime on top 33-21.
Ada playmaker Kobe Burgess, who didn’t start due to a violation of team rules, entered the game at the 4:45 mark of the third period and immediately made his presence known. His back to back steals led to a dunk and a layup that put the Cougars ahead 45-23 at the 2:46 mark.
Smith scored on an amazing spin move down the lane in the closing seconds of the third period that boosted the Ada advantage to 47-25 heading into the final eight minutes. The senior sharpshooter then scored the first four points of the fourth quarter and his two free throws with 7:18 to play pushed Ada’s advantage to 51-25.
McAlester (0-2) outscored Asda 20-4 over the remainder of the game — thanks mostly to the show put on by senior Zac Lerblance. He scored 12 of his game-high 32 points during that stretch.
Robinson had eight rebounds to go with his 18 points for Ada, while Smith scored 13 points while not missing a shot. He finished 4-of-4 from the field and sank 3-of-3 free throws.
Burgess scored seven points and had four rebounds in his limited playing time.
Jake Shannon chipped in five points and six rebounds for the hosts.
Both Ada teams are at home tonight, hosting Heritage Hall.
The Cougar squads then travel to Duncan to participate in the 2018 Southern Oklahoma Invitational.
The Ada girls meet Cache at 4 p.m. Thursday in a first-round matchup, while the Ada boys also play Cache at 5:30 p.m.