By Cort Reynolds

Ada Herald Writer

ADA - Ada trailed Arcadia 26-15 at halftime of their home girls basketball opener Saturday afternoon following a dagger Miranda Palmer step-back three-pointer just before the buzzer.

The second half appeared grim against the strong Redskin squad..

But then in the second half the hustling Lady Bulldogs stepped up their defense, holding Arcadia without a field goal until midway through the fourth period while scoring the game's final seven points to post a huge 39-34 non-league win.

Over the last 16 minutes, Ada outscored Arcadia 24-8 as the stingy purple and gold permitted only two baskets and four free throws after intermission.

When asked if it was one of the biggest regular season wins he has enjoyed during his eight-year tenure, Bulldog head coach Neal Dumbaugh replied, "absolutely. That's a good team, maybe the best in the BVC. It's a win we needed; we really stepped it up on defense and rebounding in the second half."

The Bulldogs outscored the shocked visitors 15-2 over the first 10 minutes of the second half and seized their first lead since late in the opening stanza at 29-28 after a layup by sophomore Lindsay Walden off a pretty backdoor feed from Taylor Willeke.

Two Alexis Amburgey foul shots extended the margin to 31-28 before Palmer answered on a driving layup for the first Arcadia basket of the half following a costly 11:16 drought without a field goal. Teammate Molly Glick canned a running right side banker to put the Redskins back in front 32-31 with 4:17 remaining, but failed to complete a conventional three-point play when her foul shot caromed off the iron.

Ada tied it on a free throw by freshman Rachael Wildman at the 2:47 mark, and Courtney Cramer gave the visitors their final lead on a pair of high-arching foul shots with 2:12 to go. Bulldog senior Morgan Rouch hit the first of two charity stripers with 1:54 to go, then hustled down her ensuing miss to give Ada one of its many back-breaking offensive rebounds in half two.

Willeke then posted up, missed but got her own rebound and knocked down a short lane jumper to put the hosts in front for good 35-34 with 82 ticks to go.

After throwing deep over the Redskin press the Bulldogs missed a transition drive, yet Walden trailed the play well and scored a crucial stickback with 54 seconds left to put Ada up 37-34.

"That one was a monster rebound," said Dumbaugh.

The Bulldog defense mustered another stop but Willeke missed two free tosses. However, Walden came up with another big offensive carom with 33 seconds left. Arcadia had a chance to score in transition but Glick pulled up and pased out as they ran off critical seconds looking for an opening against the staunch Ada defense.

Willeke clung tight on Palmer, determined not to let her drill another step-back triple. The Ada senior then partially blocked her long tying trey try with eight seconds to go.

Tori Wyss rebounded the shortened deflection, was fouled and sank two foul shots with 6.6 left to finish off the comeback and the stunned 'Skins.

Their second stingy second half in a row improved the Bulldog record to 2-0, while Arcadia fell to 2-1. Ada outscored Cory-Rawson 29-13 after intermission to win their opener by 14.

Arcadia led 4-0 and the Bulldogs did not dent the scoreboard until 3:35 into the fray on a fast break layup by Amburgey via a nice dish from Walden. Wildman then knotted it 69 seconds later with her own transition basket.

Palmer canned a trifecta, followed by a Wyss 15-foot swisher from the right baseline. The Redskins took a 9-8 edge after one stanza when Cramer splashed a left wing 19-footer.

A right corner triple by Wyss tied it 11-11 before the Redskins reeled off eight unanswered points. Willeke ended the spurt with a short right baseline jumper, but Cramer responded by rattling in a left corner trey for a 22-13 bulge in the final minute of the half. Palmer split a pair from the line, and sophomore Walden sank two free tosses to make it 23-15.

Palmer then dribbled the clock down and drained her step-back triple from out top to give the visitors what looked like a comfortable 11-point lead at the break.

"That was a gut check for us after that three at the end of the half," noted Dumbaugh. Ada came out with heightened intensity while Arcadia seemed a bit complacent to began the third period, and it cost them the momentum they had built going into the break on a 15-4 run.

Willeke began the comeback by bouncing in a coast to coast lane floater. Wyss banked in a driving left-side shot, and Amburgey drained a left wing trey to cut the deficit to 26-22 at the 4:40 juncture. Just like, the Bulldogs were right back in it as the defense stymied the 'Skins.

Two Palmer foul shots stopped the 7-0 spurt, but Amburgey converted a determined drive down the left baseline. The lanky soph then repeated the move along the right baseline for another power layup to pull Ada within a basket with 1:55 to go in the third quarter.

"Alexis was just huge, she had success driving the baseline," said Dumbaugh. "She made some nice drives."

Alexis Gonzaga then connected on the second of two free throws to bring Ada within 28-27 heading to the final stanza. The Bulldogs held Arcadia without a basket in the momentum-changing period, which they won 12-2. They repeatedly beat the Redskins to the boards and for loose balls to change the tenor of the contest.

Ada scored the first four points of the final quarter to take the lead, then tallied the last seven points of the game to register a signature win that may help propel the promising Bulldogs on to their finest season in decades.

Sophomores Amburgey and Wyss each scored 11 points to pace the better-balanced victors. Willeke contributed six points, nine rebounds and four assists and also held Palmer to just four second half points.

"Taylor scored six points but I thought played one of her better games," noted Dumbaugh. "She ran the team and did a phenomenal job on Palmer. We won't see a better point guard all year than Palmer."

Walden contributed six critical points and some key offensive boards. "Walden came up big in the second half," noted Dumbaugh. "She was a little tentative early but then hustled to some big offensive rebounds."

Palmer led all scorers with 14, but only four Redskins tallied. Cramer contributed 11 and Ada held talented 5-11 soph Glick to just six markers.

The Bulldog reserves also improved to 2-0 with a 15-point win. Hannah Price paced Ada with 14 points. Morgan Sutton added eight points and Sidney Faine chipped in with seven.

Ada 39 (2-0)

Gonzaga 0 1-2 1, Rouch 0 1-2 1, Amburgey 4 2-4 11, Willeke 3 0-2 6, Wildman 1 1-2 3, Walden 2 2-2 6, Wyss 4 2-4 11. Totals: 14/9-18/39. 3-pointers: Wyss 1, Amburgey 1.

Arcadia 34 (2-1)

Fox 0, Palmer 4 3-4 14, Mock 1 1-2 3, Glick 3 0-1 6, Cramer 4 2-2 11, Dauterman 0. Totals: 12/6-9/34. 3-pointers: Palmer 3, Cramer 1.

1 2 3 4 F

Ada 8 7 12 12 39

Arc 9 17 2 6 34

JV: Ada 42, Arcadia 27.

Ada visits arch-rival USV (1-1) Tuesday night in a non-league battle. The Rams lost 52-48 in overtime at Bluffton and beat Riverdale.

"That's a fun game for both sides," said Dumbaugh of the annual grudge match.

The Bulldogs then host Crestview Thursday, Dec. 6 in a key game for the NWC opener. "Crestview is young but good," he warned.