By Cort Reynolds

Ada Herald Writer

ADA - The Ada girls basketball team ran out to a 15-point lead, then staved off a late charge by defending league champion Delphos Jefferson to win a Northwest Conference battle Thursday night, 50-48.

The Lady Bulldogs raced to a 27-12 cushion, but saw the Lady Wildcats methodically chip away the rest of the game until they got within two in the final minutes. But Ada sophomore Alexis Amburgey partially blocked a desperation, last-second three-pointer to preserve the win.

Ada improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the NWC with their first win in five years over the Lady Wildcats, while Jefferson fell to 3-5 and 1-2 in the league.

On the final possession, DJ had 4.2 seconds to go the length of the court for the tie or win.

"I told the players don't let them throw it deep and keep the ball in front of you," said veteran Ada coach Neal Dumbaugh of their defense on the last play. The team executed his instructions well to seal the victory.

Aggressive sophomore Tori Wyss led Ada with eight points, three rebounds and two steals in the first period. The Bulldogs trailed for the last time on a steal and breakaway layup by Rileigh Stockwell at 6-5 midway through the opening stanza.

The purple and gold then held the visitors without a point for the next 6:32 as they seized control with 13 unanswered points. Taylor Willeke sparked the flurry with a turnaround post-up jumper. Wyss then reeled off five straight inside points to end the period.

A steal and layin by Willeke opened the second quarter, and shortly afterward she netted a pull-up shot in the lane. A Wyss stickback built the lead to 18-6 at the six-minute mark before Stockwell ended the DJ drought on a runner that bounced in with 5:28 left in the half.

Willeke answered by nailing the lone Ada trifecta of the game, and she then led Alexis Gonzaga nicely for a fast break layup and a 23-8 bulge. Brooke Culp tallied a one-footed runner, but Wyss canned two foul shots and a layup from Lindsay Walden to put Ada in front 27-12.

Wildcat Hannah Sensibaugh responded with a triple with 55 seconds to go in the half, and Culp buried a left side trey half a minute later to cut the deficit to 27-18 at intermission. The 8-2 spurt to end the half gave DJ a big boost heading to the locker room.

"They hit two unguarded three's and got a little bit of momentum," lamented Dumbaugh. "When you get a team down, you have to put them away."

Wyss netted 14 first-half points, but would be stymied in part by a triangle-and-two Wildcat defense after the break.

A spinning layup by Willeke, followed by a Morgan Rouch basket from Walden and a Walden layin, gave the hosts a 35-26 advantage. Yet DJ stayed in striking distance on a triple and a basket by Brooke Hesseling. A pair of Culp foul shots pulled the 'Cats within 35-30.

Willeke canned a southpaw layin off a nice Rouch feed. Then Rouch buried a right baseline 13-footer. Katie Goergens sank a basket to make it 39-33 heading into the final stanza.

Two free throws and a putback by Goergens sandwiched around a Rachael Wildman 12-footer cut the margin to 41-37. Amburgey scored inside off a good pass by Wyss, and Willeke rattled in a left elbow shot to build the Bulldog lead back to 45-37 with 5:25 left.

But Culp nailed a trey 12 ticks later, and Pimpas got a friendly bounce on a right side triple to inch the Wildcats within 45-43 at the 4:05 mark.

Wyss split a pair of foul shots, and then Ada spread the court on offense. Amburgey drove through the spread-out defense for a layup and 48-43 edge with 1:50 remaining. Goergens banked in a short lane follow shot with 1:32 left but, Rouch calmly swished two free tosses at the 1:01 juncture for a five-point lead.

Yet Sensibaugh drove hard for a conventional three-point play just 11 seconds later to make it a two-point game again. Willeke rimmed out the front end of a one-and-one and DJ had a chance to tie, but Culp left a right side 11-foot runner well short. Amburgey grabbed the rebound and drew a foul with 4.8 seconds left.

But she missed the foul shot and DJ called timeout after rebounding with 4.2 ticks to go. They set up a final play, but Ada forced Goergens to catch the ball at the foul line and she never got a good look as her desperation 40-foot heave was deflected by Amburgey to end the game as Ada dodged two late bullets.

"Our defensive effort was not as good as it has been," noted Dumbaugh. "We missed two front ends of one and one's late, too. We couldn't put them away."

Wyss and Willeke led Ada with 15 points apiece. Goergens tied for game scoring honors with 15 points as well, but was the lone Wildcat in double figures.

The Bulldogs hit on just seven of 15 at the foul line (47 percent) while DJ canned eight of 14 (57 percent). Ada sank 21 field goals to 17 by Jefferson, although the Lady 'Cats managed to can six treys compared to one by the victors.

The Lady Bulldog reserves also improved to 5-2 (2-1 NWC) with a four-point win in the undercard. Hannah Price led Ada with 11 points. Sidney Faine and Morgan Sutton each added eight markers.

Ada 50 (5-2, 2-1 NWC)

Willeke 7 0-3 15, Rouch 2 2-3 6, Amburgey 2 0-1 4, Walden 2 0-0 4, Wyss 5 5-7 15, Gonzaga 1 0-0 2, Wildman 2 0-1 4, Linnon 0. Totals: 21/7-15/50. 3-pointer: Willeke 1.

DJ 48 (3-5, 1-2 NWC)

Culp 3 2-2 10, Goergens 6 2-2 15, Stockwell 2 2-7 6, Sensibaugh 2 1-1 6, Pimpas 2 1-2 6, Hesseling 2 0-0 5. Totals: 17/8-14/48. 3-pointers: Culp 2, Goergens 1, Stockwell 1, Sensibaugh 1, Hesseling 1.

1 2 3 4 F

Ada 12 15 12 11 50

DJ 6 12 15 15 48

JV: Ada 39, DJ 35.

Ada visits tough New Riegel Saturday in a non-league afternoon encounter. "They have four starters back from a 21-4 team that made it to regionals last year," Dumbaugh warned.