The Ada High girls basketball team appeared to be in dire straits late in the first half of a playoff rematch with Stigler in the Class 4A Regional Tournament consolation championship game Saturday afternoon inside the Cougar Activity Center.
The following is what Ada was up against:
• Three of their top starters — senior Landyn Owens, junior Amaya Frizell and junior Shayla Wofford were in foul trouble and spent almost 10 minutes of the first half watching and cheering from the bench.
• The Lady Cougars hit just two of their first 21 field goal attempts.
• Owens had zero points in the first half.
• After a basket inside by Stigler’s Hiahni Howard with just under a minute to go in the second period, Ada trailed 24-11.
However, the Lady Cougars overcame it all with a giant second half and rallied past the Lady Panthers 47-38.
The win propelled 13th-ranked Ada to this week’s Class 4A Area Tournament hosted by Checotah High School with a 17-6 record. The Lady Cougars will face Inola at 6 p.m. Thursday. Stigler — who knocked Ada into the loser’s bracket in a Class 4A District Tournament contest — saw its season come to an end at 14-7.
“We busted our tails to catch up and take the lead,” said Ada head coach Christie Jennings. “I can’t say enough about our kids in this game. They were warriors.”
Junior Carizma Nelson made back-to-back huge plays in the closing seconds of the second quarter. She drove the lane and fired a perfect pass to Jakobi Williams for an open layup with 28.9 seconds left. Nelson then stole the ball and raced down the floor for a layup with 12.5 ticks remaining that cut Ada’s gap to 24-15 at halftime.
Jennings said Nelson came up clutch to help her team get within striking distance.
“I told Carizma that we needed the deficit to be in single digits by halftime. That’s what she and that group did (without Owens, Frizell and Wofford). They fought hard to within nine at halftime,” she said. “Stigler came out with a game plan to shut down Landyn. Between their defense and silly fouls, they did it in the first half.”
Ada outscored Stigler 14-5 in a pivotal third-quarter stretch. Owens scored her first six points of the game during that run and Carizma Nelson and Frizell both hit 3-pointers. The game was knotted at 29-29 heading to the fourth period.
“We settled the waters during halftime, and the rest is history,” Jennings said.
A 3-pointer by Saylee Smith gave Stigler a 32-31 lead early in the fourth. From there, Ada went on a 15-1 run to put the Lady Panthers away.
Frizell and Owens scored two baskets during the run and Wofford added a layup off a nice feed by Owens after driving the baseline. Ada salted the game away from the free-throw line, with Makaviya Nelson, Owens and Frizell combining for a 6-for-8 showing over the final 1:38 of the game.
Owens led the Ada offense with her 12 second-half points and Frizell followed with 11. Carizma Nelson just missed double digits with nine points and freshman sister Makaviya Nelson followed with seven. Wofford added six for the home team.
Ralee Parker led the Lady Panthers with 11 points and sisters Saylee Smith and Chloee Smith scored 10 and seven points, respectively.