By Cort Reynolds

Ada Herald writer

ADA - Host Ada tallied 33 fourth period points, 15 by Gabe Sutton, but came up just shy in a thrilling 68-66 non-league loss to county rival Kenton in their annual grudge match Saturday night.

Kenton built a 49-33 lead after a decisive 19-8 third quarter and led by as many as 14 with six minutes left, yet had to stave off the charging Bulldogs on their Senior Night as Matt Bahr scored the final four Wildcat points to preserve victory.

The Bulldogs dropped to 5-11 with their fourth straight loss while Kenton improved to 11-6.

"The third quarter killed us," said Ada coach Chris Sautter. "We had nine turnovers in the period. We didn't win but I hope we can take come confidence away from this game. I am real proud of our effort."

Sutton fired in a carer-high 19 points to lead all scorers. "Gabe had an out of body experience," Sautter said. "It was nice for him to have a career night on Senior Night. All five seniors who started in the first quarter played great and set a good tone."

Sutton scored eight straight Ada points in an 87-second stretch to pull the Bulldogs within 55-50 with 3:17 remaining to play. Bahr canned two foul shots but Mason Acheson stole the ball and fed Kellen Decker for a layup to keep Ada alive.

Two Travis Downing free throws were answered by consecutive driving baskets from Bulldog junior Austin Dumbaugh. Wildcat sophomore Colyn Blackford then buried a crucial but questionable right corner triple to put the Wildcats up by six with 1:10 remaining.

"Give Kenton's kids credit," said Sautter. "They hit a huge three and some big free throws."

Ada kept coming back, however. Decker split a pair at the charity stripe and Acheson netted a banker to slice the deficit to 63-59. Downing hit one foul shot yet Sutton converted a pair to inch the hosts to 64-61 with 29.3 left.

Kenton then threw deep over the press and Bahr got a critical breakaway layup. Sutton came right back and swished a left wing trifecta seconds later to cut it to two. Bahr was fouled and calmly drained both shots with just 11.5 seconds to go.

Ada had no timeouts left and Acheson tried a three, which came up short. Decker rebounded and put in a reverse layup with a under two seconds to go, but time ran out.

"We did everything we could to win, and Kenton just made enough plays and free throws down the stretch to win," said Sautter.

Sutton started the game well with a nice drive down the lane. An Austin Cobb trey built the lead to 7-3, but powerful Kenton forged ahead with a 13-3 as 6-4 Grant Sherman took over inside and Bahr splashed his first of three treys.

A left baseline floater by Acheson and a fast break basket by Sutton cut the deficit to 16-14 after one stanza. Decker's layup to begin the second period tied it for the last time, but Travis Downing drained a trey to give the visitors the lead for good.

A pick and roll layin by the 6-4 Noah Furbush was answered on a pretty Cobb backdoor layup from Spencer Archer. After the teams traded foul shots, Austin Phillips made a layup off an in-bounds pass for a 26-23 Wildcat lead.

Acheson's layup made it a one-point game but a foul shot and a left wing trifecta by Bahr put Kenton ahead 30-25 at intermission.

The Wildcats took control of the contest with a big third period. Sherman banged in a layup and Dumbaugh responded with a left baseline 11-footer. Kenton then reeled off nine unanswered points to seize a 41-27 cushion with 3:33 to go in the third quarter.

Decker's short banker moments later ended the costly spurt. Dumbaugh drilled a foul line jumper but Sherman netted a stickback. Acheson tallied a left baseline floater to pull within 10.

Yet Kenton then scored the last six points of the period on a Blackford fast break layin, a Phillips jump hook and a Downing layin off a steal. Ada turned the ball over on its last four possessions of the period to help the Wildcats grab a seemingly comfortable 49-33 margin heading to the final eight minutes.

Sutton then came up big with four baskets: a layup, a right wing 17-footer, a fast break layin and a 17-footer that bounced high into the air and in from the left baseline. He also converted two foul shots that cut the deficit to five with 3:17 left.

But the third quarter lapses proved too much to overcome. "We didn't come out of halftime ready to play, and they did," Sautter admitted. "We made too many turnovers and they came in bunches."

Powerful Kenton posts Furbush and Sherman fouled out down the stretch to aid the comeback by the Bulldogs, who ended the game on a 27-15 tear. "We got their big guys in foul trouble," noted Sautter. "We don't have anyone to match up with those guys and their bulk. They have three pretty big posts."

Ada committed 21 turnovers compared to 16 by the Wildcats. The Bulldogs canned 16 of 26 foul shots (62 percent) and Kenton converted 15 of 27 (56 percent) at the charity stripe.

"It was nice for all the guys to see the ball go through the net and gain some confidence," Sautter added. "Hopefully this will be that one game we needed to get some momentum."

Acheson scored 14 points to support Sutton while Decker added 11. Dumbaugh scored eight of his nine points in the second half despite having to leave for a gushing cut over his eye that required stitches. Archer added eight markers and Cobb had six.

Bahr topped Kenton with 16 points while Sherman netted 13 and Travis Downing tallied 10.

The Bulldog reserves, coached by long-time former Kenton assistant Darren Gilbert, won by 20 to improve to 12-4. Blake Willeke led Ada with 15 points. Grant McBride tallied a dozen and Levi Bass added 11.

Ada 66 (5-11)

Szippl 0, Sautter 0, Acheson 5 4-7 14, Dumbaugh 4 1-2 9, Decker 5 1-2 11, Sutton 7 4-5 19, Cobb 2 0-0 5, Archer 1 6-10 8. Totals: 22-2/16-26/66. 3-pointer: Sutton 1, Cobb 1.

Kenton 68 (11-6)

Halsey 2 3-6 7, Sherman 6 1-2 13, Trav. Downing 2 5-6 10, Trev Downing 2 0-2 4, Bahr 4 5-6 16, Blackford 2 0-0 5, Furbush 4 0-1 8, Phillips 2 1-4 5. Totals: 19-5/15-27/68. 3-pointers: Bahr 3, Trav. Downing 1, Blackford 1.

1 2 3 4 F

Ada 14 11 8 33 66

Kenton 16 14 19 19 68

JV: Ada 50, Kenton 30.

Ada (1-5 NWC) returns to league action Friday, Feb. 8 at Columbus Grove (10-6, 4-2 NWC). They then play at another non-league county rival in Hardin Northern (3-13) Saturday, Feb. 9.

"Grove is just pretty solid," said Sautter. "They won't beat themselves. It will be a tough environment but nice to go there and see their new gym.

"Hardin Northern will put up a lot of shots, they shoot the three," he added.

The Bulldogs are 3-4 on the road and 2-7 at home this season.