By Cort Reynolds

Ada Herald writer

ADA - Sophomore post Trey Smith canned a pair of foul shots with 5.2 seconds left in overtime, and Delphos Jefferson dodged a last-second three-pointer to hold on for a hard-fought 51-49 Northwest Conference boys basketball win at Ada Friday night.

The Bulldogs dug themselves an early 16-5 hole, then methodically rallied over the next three quarters to take a five-point lead in the fourth period. Yet Delphos came back to tie it on a corner trifecta by 5-7 freshman playmaker Jace Stockwell.

Neither team scored the final 2:26 of regulation as DJ ran off most of the time going for a last shot it never got off.

Smith scored all four Wildcat points at the foul line in overtime. His first two charity stripers gave DJ a 49-47 edge with 3:06 to go, but Grant McBride tied it for Ada on a short bank shot off a nice Blake Willeke feed with 2:44 left.

Jefferson milked clock for much of the rest of the extra session. They then posted the 6-5 Smith on the left block and he spun for a reverse layup that came up short. But a controversial fifth foul was whistled on Ada senior Austin Dumbaugh as Smith fell to the floor.

Smith calmly buried both free tosses. After a timeout, sophomore guard Willeke pushed the ball upcourt, but his well-contested trey at the buzzer came up short.

The tough loss dropped the Bulldog record to 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the NWC. DJ improved to 7-4 overall and got its first league win at 1-2.

"We wanted Blake to get it and go; I thought Blake had a good matchup to beat his guy off the dribble," said Ada coach Chris Sautter of the last play. "But he hasn't been in that position before so it is my fault for putting him there.

"But we lost this game in the first quarter. You can't get down 16-7 out of the gate."

However, Sautter thought his team gave a good effort.

"Give the kids credit, they battled back," he said. "Delphos hit some big three's in the fourth quarter. I thought we got good looks at the end, we just didn't finish down the stretch."

Fatigue may have played a role.

The Bulldogs led briefly 5-4 early on a triple by junior McBride, yet then powerful senior post Ross Thompson hit his third and fourth shots in a row to put the Wildcats back on top.

Stockwell bounced in a trey and splashed another three from the top of the key to cap a 12-0 run that extended the margin to 16-5.

Bulldog senior Josh Lehsten canned a layup just before the first period horn to cut the deficit to 16-7. Smith extended the lead to 11 with a layup to start the second stanza before Ada began to get into a good groove.

Willeke converted a pair of foul shots, followed by a Levi Bass layin. Brayden Sautter tallied a fine spinning drive in transition to pull the hosts to 19-13 with 4:33 left in the half.

Thompson scored on a nice up-and-under bank shot, yet Bass answered by hitting a right baseline 16-footer. Two Austin Dumbaugh free throws cut the margin to five, and Willeke's left corner triple inched Ada within 22-20 1:45 before intermission.

But four Wildcats foul shots built their lead back to 26-20 at halftime.

Thompson nailed a 14-footer to open the second half, but after that Ada dominated the period. Dumbaugh started the run by canning an eight-footer from Willeke.

Dumbaugh converted a strong putback to make it 30-24. Smith scored inside yet McBride sank two charity stripers. Dumbaugh then snapped off a fine feed to an open Sautter on the left side, and he buried a trifecta.

Smith powered his way inside for another layin. McBride converted a transition layup and Dumbaugh scored on a weakside stickback to slice the deficit to 34-33.

McBride then pulled up in transition and drilled a right elbow jumper to give Ada its first lead since early in period one with 1:56 to go in the quarter.

Smith put DJ back on top with a nice alley-oop finish at the 1:19 mark. Yet a left corner triple by Willeke capped a 14-4 spurt that put the Bulldogs back on top 38-36 at the end of three periods.

"We just came out and played," explained Sautter of the 18-10 Bulldog third period. "We got some stops and the kids battled back."

A trey from the top of the key by Bass gave Ada its biggest lead at 41-36 with 7:30 left in regulation. Smith got a favorable bounce on a trey 30 seconds later. Willeke answered with a fine midair putback.

Austin Jettinghoff drained a triple for his lone basket to pull the visitors within 43-42 at the 6:20 mark. Dumbaugh muscled his way in for a bucket at the five-minute juncture, followed by a Thompson power layup.

Willeke then showed his versatility by posting up and scoring inside to give Ada a 47-44 lead with 3:33 left. Freshman Stockwell then came up with a crucial three from the corner to tie it with 2:26 remaining in the fourth period.

After an Ada miss, Delphos ran off more than 90 seconds as they angled for the last shot. However, after nearly losing it twice against Bulldog pressure, they threw the ball out of bounds with 9.5 seconds left.

But one key stat was in their favor at that point. DJ had been whistled for only two team fouls all half, so they were able to foul twice and run almost six seconds off before Ada could shoot.

Ada called timeout with 3.8 seconds left to set up a backdoor lob to Willeke, but Stockwell defended it well. Sautter took the in-bounds pass and drove to the top of the key for a potential winning shot.

But as he rose up to shoot, the ball slipped out of his hands and Willeke's clever, overhead desperation tip try from 10 feet missed at the buzzer to force the extra session.

Sautter was expecting DJ to foul since they had several to give in the final 10 seconds of regulation, but expressed surprise that the Wildcats had committed only two fouls the entire half.

Neither team had many shots in the overtime as Ada scored the lone basket of the OT.

Willeke led Ada with 14 points while McBride tallied 11 and Dumbaugh contributed 10.

Smith topped all scorers with 18 points and Thompson added 16.

Ada converted all six of its free throws, but DJ shot twice as many and made 10 of its 12 (83 percent). "We lost the game at the foul line," added Sautter.

The Bulldog reserves won 41-31 to improve to 3-4. Owen Conley led Ada with a dozen points and Seth Evans added nine.

Ada 49 (1-6, 0-3 NWC)

Sautter 2 0-0 5, Willeke 5 2-2 14, McBride 4 2-2 11, Dumbaugh 4 2-2 10, Bass 3 0-0 7, Lehsten 1 0-0 2, Archer 0, Ansley 0.

Totals: 14-5/6-6/49. 3-pointers: Willeke 2, Sautter 1, Bass 1, McBride 1.

DJ 51 (7-4, 1-2 NWC)

Stockwell 3 0-0 9, Jettinghoff 1 1-2 4, Thompson 7 2-2 16, Smith 6 5-6 18, Mox 0, Fitch 1 2-2 4.

Totals: 13-5/10-12/51. 3-pointers: Stockwell 3, Smith 1, Jettinghoff 1.

1 2 3 4 OT F

Ada 7 13 18 9 2 49

DJ 16 10 10 11 4 51

JV: Ada 41, DJ 31.

The Bulldogs, who have dropped four straight, return to the road to visit winless non-league foe Waynesfield Saturday night. "Hopefully we can get a win and get into a stretch where we can string together some wins," said Sautter. "As long as we keep playing hard, we will get a W."

Ada's postponed game at Wapakoneta this past Tuesday will be made up February 4.