ADA - The Ada boys basketball team outscored visiting county rival Hardin Northern 28-10 over the middle quarters and went on to post a relatively easy 60-40 non-league triumph Saturday night.
Blake Willeke led the Bulldogs with 15 points and Austin Dumbaugh contributed 14 to pace the victors.
Ada improved to 5-11 with the win, while HN fell to 1-18.
"Austin and Blake played well both games this weekend," said Bulldog veteran head coach Chris Sautter. "The middle two periods tonight were pretty good."
Spunky but undersized HN shot well early, trailed by only one after the first period and was still within 31-22 at halftime. But then Ada dominated the offensive boards in a 12-2 third period to take complete command.
"We played well the first half," said Northern head coach Craig Hershey. "Our M.O. all year has been to hit a wall in the third quarter. Fatigue is tough to battle through when you only play six guys, and we get drilled on the boards every night."
Levi Bass opened the game with a layup for Ada, which was answered by a Blake Obenour trifecta. Brayden Sautter canned a lane jumper, but Jacob Gossard nailed a baseline jumper and a right wing triple to put the Polar Bears on top, 8-4.
A putback and two foul shots by Bass were offset by four Kyle Lamb free throws. Sautter stole the ball and went in for a steal and tallied a layup, followed by a baseline power layin from Willeke that tied it 12-all.
Trevor Prichard banked in a falling 13-footer late in the opening stanza, but Willeke drained a left wing trey just before the buzzer to give Ada the lead, 15-14.
"I thought we looked a little flat and tired out of the gate," Sautter noted, with his team coming off a draining 48-46 road loss the night before.
Gossard drilled a 17-footer from the circle to open period two, but it would turn out to be the last HN lead. Grant McBride canned a left corner triple and Dumbaugh sank a layup to spark a 10-0 purple and gold spurt.
Willeke splashed a trey from the right corner, and then McBride converted a transition layup off a behind the back pass from Dumbaugh to put the hosts in front, 25-16.
A Rylie Drumm layup stopped the flurry. Yet Dumbaugh scored inside and then dribbled through the defense for another basket. Spencer Archer netted a fast break layup to build the lead to 31-18.
A foul line pull-up shot and two foul shots by Drumm inched the feisty Bears within nine at intermission.
Yet Ada put the game away with an 8-0 splurge by hitting the offensive boards to open the second half. Dumbaugh canned a putback and Sautter scored on a fast break to lengthen the lead to 13.
Dumbaugh powered in for another stickback, and then Willeke flew in for an offensive board and layup moments later for a 39-22 bulge.
A 17-footer by Obenour from the circle with 4:35 left in the third quarter turned out to be HN's only basket of the period.
Another follow basket by Willeke and a half-hook by Owen Conley extended the Bulldog advantage to 43-24 heading to the final period.
Lamb canned a trey and two foul shots for Northern early in the fourth. Drumm then drained a pair of triples. Blake Ansley tallied a short bank shot and Willeke drained a left corner trey to highlight the 17-16 period. Dumbaugh then posted up, spun and made a nice scoop shot.
Senior southpaw Josh Lehsten scored inside to provide the last Ada points.
"It was a good opportunity to get a lot of kids playing time," Sautter summed up. "It is hard when you start late (due to football) to develop depth when you are trying to develop starters first.
"Wins have been hard to come by," he continued. "If we continue to play hard, our outside shooting comes around and Austin keeps playing well, we can peak at the right time."
The seven-team sectional draw, which includes HN, is this Sunday at Kenton. Arlington, USV and Perry are expected to vie for the two seeds.
The Bulldogs converted only four of 13 at the charity stripe, while the Bears hit on nine of 12.
"We couldn't get a stop, but give Ada credit," said Hershey. "We didn't have an answer for them. I thought Kyle (Lamb) played well. We have three games to go now."
Drumm topped HN with 12 points. Gossard and Lamb each added nine markers.
Ada also won the junior varsity game easily 46-20 to improve to 9-6. Seth Evans scored a dozen points and Conley added 10 to pace the Bulldog reserves. Bradlee Watts led HN with nine.

Ada 60 (5-11)
Sautter 4 0-2 8, Willeke 6 0-1 15, McBride 2 0-0 5, Dumbaugh 7 0-3 14, Bass 2 3-4 7, Archer 2 0-0 4, Ansley 1 1-2 3, Conley 1 0-0 2, Lehsten 1 0-1 2. 
Totals: 22-4/4-13/60. 3-pointer: Willeke 3, McBride 1.
HN 40 (1-18)
Gossard 4 0-0 9, R. Drumm 4 2-4 12, Prichard 1 0-0 2, Lamb 1 6-6 9, S. Drumm 0 1-2 1, Obenour 3 0-0 7.
Totals: 8-5/9-12/40. 3-pointers: R. Drumm 2, Lamb 1, Gossard 1, Obenour 1.
1 2 3 4 F
Ada 15 16 12 17 60
HN 14 8 2 16 40
JV: Ada 46, HN 20.

Ada hosts tough BVC foe Arlington Monday in a makeup contest in the second leg of a four-game homestand this week.
"They are very good, they have size and kids who can flat-out stroke it. It will be a tough test for us defensviely to match up. They don't have a weakness."
HN's next game is also vs. league rival Arlington on Friday, Feb. 14.