By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald Writer
ADA - In a shootout between two of the top female cagers in the area, the better-balanced Ada girls basketball team withstood a late charge by Waynesfield-Goshen standout Kaylee Patton to hold on for an intense 57-56 non-league win Saturday afternoon.The critical victory should assure the Lady Bulldogs of the top seed in the upcoming Div. IV Kenton sectionals over the Tigers, who fell to 11-6.
Ada improved to 11-7 with the win, good enough for the number one seeding in coach Neal Dumbaugh's mind. "We beat USV and Waynesfield and have played a tougher schedule," he explained. "We beefed up our schedule adding (top-ranked) Ottoville and New Riegel (a 2012 regional finalist). We definitely knew going in this game was for the number one seed."
Making the key victory even bigger was a personal milestone achieved en route. Ada senior guard Taylor Willeke became the seventh player in Lady Bulldog basketball history to surpass 1,000 career points with 5:01 left in the third period when she bounced home a 12-foot transition pull-up shot in the lane.
The four-year starter needed 16 points going into the game to reach the milestone and ended the game with 1,006 markers on the strength of five trifectas. Dumbaugh has now coached three of the program's 1,000-point players over the last decade, including his daughter Morgan, and Kara Dysert.
"It means durability, staying injury-free, being consistent," said the coach of scoring 1,000 points. "Taylor deserves it. She has gotten better since last year, and every year. She handled the situation well and it was nice to do it at home. It's pretty special."
Tiffin-bound Patton led all scorers with 26 points, while Willeke tallied 22. "That was two pretty good scorers out there," Dumbaugh noted.
Willeke got off to a good start by netting the first eight Ada points. "I knew I just had to come out calm and play my game, and not have that 16 number hanging over my head. When I scored eight right away it calmed me down.
"We just wanted to win," she continued. "It's a great feeling to have all the hard work pay off. It's a great honor to be up there with Morgan, Kara and the others who have made it to 1,000."
Ada built a seemingly comfortable 10-point fourth quarter lead on a Willeke stickback with 7:36 remaining, but then the scrappy Tigers began to rally. Patton hit a foul shot and banked in a drive to cut the lead to seven.
The determined senior then willed in another right side runner off the glass as the visitors crept to 52-48 with 3:17 left.
Alexis Gonzaga canned a key basket inside off a fine Willeke pass to build the lead back to six at the 2:30 mark. Tiger Kiersten Wilcox converted the first of two foul shots, then Patton rebounded the second-shot miss and scored to pull Waynesfield within 54-51 at the 1:51 juncture.
Ada sophomore Lindsay Walden tallied a layup with 1:40 left and Tori Wyss split a pair at the line for a 57-51 cushion. Yet the Tigers wouldn't go away.
Patton was fouled shooting a corner trey but made only two free tosses with 13 seconds to go, which turned out to be crucial to the outcome. Wyss then missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Tigers rebounded.
Patton rushed upcourt and tossed in a difficult, contested triple from the top of the key with just 2.8 seconds left to slice the deficit to a single point.
"Kaylee threw in a circus shot, what do you say," offered Dumbaugh rhetorically.
But after a timeout Ada got the ball into Wyss, who eluded the Tigers and happily dribbled upcourt to run out the clock.
"I thought the difference was that they have two kids who can shoot it from outside, but we have more shooters," said Dumbaugh. "So we went to a triangle defense in the second half."
Ada did seize control in the third stanza, outscoring the Tigers 22-12 to overcome a 30-28 halftime deficit.
Gonzaga tied it on a coast to coast layup to open the second half. Willeke splashed a left wing trey for a 33-30 lead, but four Abbie VanHorn points put the visitors back in front, albeit briefly.
Ada freshman Rachael Wildman nailed a 17-footer to put the Bulldogs on top to stay. Willeke knocked in the shot that put her over 1,000 points, then drilled another left wing trifecta for a 40-36 edge.
Alexis Amburgey then got in on the act by swishing consecutive treys from the left corner. Two Patton baskets kept W-G in striking distance down 50-42 after three, but Ada was able to stave off her late spurt.
"It was a big win," said Dumbaugh.
Patton gunned the Tigers to a 12-8 early lead while Willeke kept the Bulldogs close with two treys and a pull-up shot in the opening four minutes. "I started off well and I knew the mark would be coming at some point," said Willeke.
Sharpshooting Wildman netted an 18-footer from the left baseline and two Wyss foul shots pulled the hosts within 14-12 after one quarter.
A 10-0 Ada flurry was then ignited by back-to-back treys by Wyss and Willeke over the W-G zone. After Sidney Faine banked in a driving lane shot, the Bulldogs held a 22-16 margin. Another Wyss triple built the lead back to 26-20, but then Waynesfield grabbed the momentum.
Tiger guard Lidia Turner swished a left side trey, then made a rare four-point play from the same spot just 21 seconds later to give W-G a 27-26 lead. "We let Turner get seven points in 20 seconds," lamented Dumbaugh. Three subsequent foul shots increased the Tiger spurt to 10 unanswered points.
But Ada senior Morgan Rouch ended the run by knocking down a key 12-footer just before the buzzer to cut the deficit in half and stem the Tiger momentum. The Bulldogs then outscored W-G 24-12 in the first 8:24 after intermission to take control and win.
Wilcox supported Patton with 10 points while VanHorn and Turner each added eight.
Willeke contributed five assists and five rebounds to augment her big scoring day. Wyss added 11 points and five caroms. Eight Bulldogs scored compared to five Tigers.
W-G converted 15 of 22 foul shots while Ada canned four of seven. The Bulldogs knocked down nine triples to three by the Tigers, and canned 22 field goals to 19 by W-G.
Willeke became the third member of her family to score 1,000 high school points. Her mom, Jodi, scored 1,117 career points at Cedarville and Jodi's father also netted 1,001 at the same high school.
Taylor said her "floor game" is what has improved most in her four seasons. "Overall everything in my game has gotten better, as well as just taking control and being a leader," she added.
The Tigers won the low-scoring reserve game, 20-13. Morgan Sutton topped Ada with eight points.
Ada 57 (11-7)
Gonzaga 2 0-0 4, Rouch 2 0-0 4, Amburgey 2 0-0 6, Willeke 8 1-2 22, Faine 2 0-0 4, Wildman 2 0-0 4, Walden 1 0-0 2, Wyss 3 3-5 11. Totals: 22/4-7/57. 3-pointers: Willeke 5, Wyss 2, Amburgey 2.
W-G 56 (11-6)
Turner 2 2-3 8, Patton 10 5-7 26, Wilcox 3 4-6 10, VanHorn 3 2-2 8, Salyer-Watts 1 2-4 4. Totals: 19/15-22/56. 3-pointers: Turner 2, Patton 1.
1 2 3 4 F
Ada 12 16 22 7 57
W-G 14 16 12 14 56
JV: Waynesfield 20, Ada 13.
Ada (5-1 NWC) next plays Thursday, January 31 at tough league foe Lincolnview (12-4, 4-2 NWC). "They are the best team left on our schedule," said Dumbaugh. "They only lost by one to Crestview." The Lady Knights are the only team to beat the Bulldogs in conference play and are first in the NWC at 6-0. The Lady Lancers are tied for third in the league standings with Bluffton and Allen East, just a game behind Ada.