The Ada High School basketball teams have a busy week ahead.
The Cougar squads start off with a road trip to archrival McAlester before hosting the 2019 East Central Oklahoma Classic Thursday through Saturday inside the Cougar Activity Center.
The Lady Cougars entered the holiday break at 6-2 and ranked No. 8 in Class 5A. Their only losses have come at the hands of a pair of ranked schools in Class 6A — No. 17 Norman and No. 4 Shawnee.
McAlester is sitting at the No. 17 spot in Class 5A, with a 4-3 mark.
Ada will then dive into the ECOC, meeting Broken Bow at 7 p.m. Thursday in a first-round matchup. The Class 4A Lady Savages are 5-5 on the year.
“I think the ECOC is really tough this year. The field on the girls side is made up of six 5A teams and two 4A teams,” said Ada head coach Christie Jennings. “We are going to have our hands full in all three rounds, no matter if we are in the winner’s bracket or loser’s bracket.”
Other first-round matchups include Newcastle versus Durant at 10 a.m.; McAlester vs. Collinsville at 1 p.m. and Ardmore vs. NW Classen at 4 p.m.
Newcastle is 7-1 and ranked No. 7 in Class 4A, NW Classen is 5-2 and No. 19 in Class 5A and Ardmore is 9-0 and No. 2 in Class 5A.
Should Ada and Ardmore win their first-round matchups, the old rivals would meet in a semifinal contest set for 7 p.m. Friday.
Jennings wouldn’t mind that at all, especially since Ardmore is no longer on Ada’s regular-season schedule.
“Ideally, we win and get to match up with Ardmore. We want to continue to have opportunities to play the best teams,” she said. “That’s how we will get better.”
The young Lady Cougars will indeed be battle-tested at the end of next week.
“We don’t want our kids to underachieve this season just because of their youth. We don’t want the stigma of ‘we are going to be a good team.’ We want to be good now. That’s how we will approach the second semester,” Jennings said.
The Cougars (5-3, No. 13 in Class 5A) already own a double-digit victory over McAlester in November, and the Buffaloes have struggled to a 1-6 overall record. But those familiar with the longstanding rivalry know all too well you can throw records out the window when those two teams get together.
The ECOC will be challenging for the Ada squad, which meets Durant (3-4) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round.
Other first-round games include Newcastle versus Shawnee at 11:30 a.m.; Collinsville versus McAlester at 2:30 p.m.; and Broken Bow versus Ardmore at 5:30 p.m.
Ranked teams in the ECOC field include Class 6A No. 19 Shawnee, Class 5A No. 10 Collinsville and Class 4A No. 12 Broken Bow.
“It will be a competitive tournament with well-coached teams from top to bottom,” said Ada head coach Garland Parks. “As coaches, I’m sure we’re all looking forward to returning to action and focused on getting better.”
The Cougars will be missing seniors Kobe Burgess and Jeremiah Alexander-Shaw, at least for the foreseeable future. According to Ada Athletic Director Bryan Harwell, both players have been removed from the Ada boys basketball roster.