By Cort Reynolds

Ada Herald Writer

BLUFFTON - Host Bluffton put on a 23-5 second half spurt to break open a close game and defeat Ada 53-40 in a local Northwest Conference boys basketball rivalry battle Friday night.

A stickback by Bulldog junior Spencer Archer late in the third stanza cut their deficit to three, yet the Pirates scored the final three points of the period to grab a 33-27 lead.

Bluffton then reeled off the next six points, sparking a 13-5 run to start the decisive quarter, and eventually led by as many as 21 before Ada spurted late to cut the final margin to 13.

The Bulldogs fell to 5-9 overall and 1-4 in the NWC with the loss. Surging Blufton evened its record at 7-7 following their fourth win in a row, and improved to 2-3 in the league.

Ada junior Austin Dumbaugh scored the first four Bulldog points of the night, but the Buccaneers took the lead on a steal and three-point play by Noah Stratton. Bulldog senior Kellen Decker canned a left corner shot and freshman Brayden Sautter splashed a left elbow shot, yett the Pirates grabbed a slim 11-9 lead after one period following a triple by Michael Donley.

Dumbaugh opened the second stanza with a conventional three-point play inside that gave Ada a 12-11 edge. But it turned out to be their final lead of the night.

Donley answered with a left wing trifecta to spark an 8-0 Pirate flurry. A second Dumbaugh three-point play inside, this time off a Sautter feed, stopped the splurge and pulled Ada within 19-15.

Stratton scored on another stickback and Decker converted a jumper in the lane with 15 seconds left in the half to make it 21-17 at intermission.

Pirate Jordan Skilliter hit the first basket of the second half, yet Dumbaugh responded with a jumper and Archer scored inside off a pass from Dumbaugh to inched the Bulldogs within 23-21.

Bluffton ran off four quick points before Sautter drained a right wing trey to slice the deficit to three. Donley scored from the right block and the teams traded foul shots. Archer then converted his stickback to advance Ada within 30-27. Stratton answered with a foul shot and another offensive rebound basket to give the Pirates a six-point bulge heading to the final period.

The Stratton brothers scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to shoot Bluffton to a 39-27 cushion with 6:22 remaining.

Archer stopped the tide temporarily with an old-fashioned three-point play at the 6:02 mark. Pirate Austin Bricker canned a pair of foul shots but Gabe Sutton hit a basket for the purple and gold to get the Bulldogs within 41-32 with 5:30 left.

Bluffton then came up with a big steal and went coast -to-coast for a layin to stop the Ada momentum and restore the lead to 11. Bricker hit a foul shot and Donley added two more after Bulldog coach Chris Sautter was hit with a technical foul for protesting a late call on an apparent steal by Brenden Szippl.

Five more Donley free throws in six attempts helped stretch the margin to 53-32 with under three minutes to play.

Sautter knocked down his second triple from the top of the key with 2:20 left to stop the 10-0 Buc run. Grant McBride then came off the bench to nail another trey with 22 seconds left. Archer added a pair foul shots moments later to give Ada a game-ending 8-0 run and cut the final deficit to a baker's dozen.

The Pirates canned 13 of 18 from the charity stripe in the fourth period alone to clinch the win. Their last 10 points came from the line. In all, the Pirates canned 19 of 27 from the foul line (70 percent) while Ada hit on seven of 11 (73 percent).

Austin Dumbaugh led Ada with 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half. Archer scored nine and Sautter added eight markers.

Noan and Robbie Stratton hustled and shot their way to 27 combined points, while Donley added 15.

Ada 40 (5-9, 1-4 NWC)

Szippl 0, Sautter 3 0-0 8, Acheson 0, Dumbaugh 5 2-3 12, Decker 2 0-0 4, Sutton 1 1-3 3, Cobb 0 1-2 1, Archer 3 3-3 9, Willeke 0, McBride 1 0-0 3. Totals: 12-3/7-11/40. 3-pointers: Sautter 2, McBride 1.

Bluffton 53 (7-7, 2-3 NWC)

N. Stratton 18, Donley 3 7-8 15, Kissler 2 0-0 4, Skilliter 1 0-2 2, R. Stratton 9, Bricker 0 3-4 3, Phillips 0 2-2 2, Alt 0, Evans 0. Totals: 13-3/19-27/53. 3-pointers: Donley 2, Stratton 1.

1 2 3 4 F

Ada 9 8 10 13 40

Bluf 11 10 12 20 53

Ada returns to conference play Friday, February 1 at home against Lincolnview (5-10, 2-3 NWC). The Bulldogs then host much-improved county rival Kenton (9-4) Saturday night, Feb. 2.

Ada is 2-5 at home this season and 3-4 on the road.