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January 24, 2021

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Ram blitz buries Bulldog boys in rivalry game    

Ada travels to Hardin Northern on Saturday

By Cort Reynolds
ADA - Visiting arch-rival Upper Scioto Valley reeled off 20 unanswered points midway through the game to knock off Ada 54-34 Tuesday night in their annual non-conference grudge match.

The Bulldogs trailed just 15-12 in the second quarter after senior Micah Cook sank a right baseline jumper. But then the Rams tallied the final nine points of the half to take control.

USV continued that momentum into the second half with an 11-0 opening flurry and built a 35-12 cushion to put the game out of reach.     

The Bulldogs dropped to 1-9 with the defeat. Meanwhile, the Rams evened ther record at 4-4 with the convincing victory. 

"It was extremely deflating to start the second half like that," said Ada head coach Jon Cook. "We can't get behind against a very good defensive team that is hard to get an 8-2 or 10-0 run against."

Three Ram juniors combined to score all but two of their points. Connor Sanders led all players with 20 points, while Jackson Rohrs and Kadyn Hurley each netted 16.

"We did a good job at the start of the third quarter," said USV head coach Jeff Kloepfer. "Defensively, we did a nice job and put the game out of reach. Sanders got it going in the second half."

Sanders canned a reverse layin and a diving southpaw shot to open the game up 4-0. Cayden Murphy sank a short banker for the first Bulldog basket at the 5:50 mark. 

Hurley splashed two foul shots before Cook swished a right wing triple. Two Rohrs foul shots and a right wing trifecta by Hurley put USV on top 11-5 after the opening stanza.

Cook drained another right side trey to start the second period. "We lost Micah a few times," Kloepfer admitted.

Rohrs canned a short bank shot. Ethan Murhpy scored inside off a nice feed from his brother with 4:55 left in the half. Hurley sank a layup off an in-bounds pass, and then Cook cut it to 15-12 after hitting a 12-foot baseline shot.

But Rohrs then hit two free tosses to ignite the half-ending 9-0 spurt. Sanders drilled a triple and hit another field goal as USV doubled up Ada 24-12 at the intermission break.

Hurley converted a conventional three-point play to open the second half. Sanders stole the ball and finished a layin. Sanders then swished a right corner trifecta to extend the lead to 32-12 at the 6:17 mark.

Hurley drilled a trey from the top of the key to cap the 20-0 run bridging the middle quarters. 

"They had two steals in a row there that hurt us," said Cook.

Senior Tristan Conley stopped the splurge with a left wing trey at the 3:52 juncture to end a scoring drought of nearly eight minutes for Ada. But by then it was too late.

Two Conley foul shots cut the deficit to 35-17. Sanders then netted an alley-oop layin, and added a breakaway two-handed dunk with 2:13 left.

Senior Trent Ennis canned a layup for Ada, followed by a putback inside from Conley. Rohrs canned a driving baseline scoop layin to build the lead to 41-21 after three quarters.

Ethan Murphy sank a driving layup to begin the final stanza. Hurley swished a left wing triple. Ada senior Danny Thompson split two foul shots before Sanders made a layup, and Rohrs nailed a left corner triple.

Cook knocked down a right corner trey with 5:02 remaining to make it 49-27. After a Rohrs foul shot, Conley splashed a triple from the left wing with 3:10 left.

Rohrs made a layup and Blaine Castle banked in a mid-lane follow shot to end the Ram scoring. 

Bulldog senior guard Jacob Poling canned a driving scoop shot and a transition layup in the final minutes to slice the final margin to 20.

"We have to find a way to stay tough mentally and physically when the ball is not going in the basket," Cook noted. "Coupled with our lack of experience and immaturity, we are not tough enough mentally and physically to fight our way out.

"We have a lot of guys playing new roles and being asked to do a lot more than they have been asked to before," he continued. "We got out of shape during our 10-day quarantine, too."

The Ram mentor was happy with his team's defense, which Ada was unable penetrate.

"Pressure defense is what we do, no matter who we play," said Kloepfer. "I knew their ballhandling wasn't great, especially when Micah wasn't in there. We did a pretty good job pressuring them."
"Sanders is a tough matchup," said Cook. "He is a very complete player at this stage of his career. He makes his teammates better.     
"USV switched a lot on defense, randomly at times," he added. 

Cook led the Bulldogs with 11 points. Tristan Conley added 10 markers.

The Bulldogs canned 13 field goals. They sank eight baskets inside the arc, and made five shots from three-point territory.     
Ada converted three of five attempts from the charity stripe (60 percent).

The Rams connected on 20 total baskets, including six from three-point territory and 14 field goals inside the arc. USV converted eight of 13 free throws (62 percent) from the charity stripe. 

"We are an absolute rollercoaster right now," Cook added. Ada is now 1-4 at home.
Ada won the two-quarter junior varsity contest 22-13 to up their record to 5-4. Carter Conley led the Bulldog reserves with nine points, while Chandler Leonard topped the Rams with six.    

Ada 34 (1-9)
C. Murphy 1 0-1 2, Cook 4 0-0 11, Wall 0, Ennis 1 0-0 2, T. Conley 3 2-2 10, Poling 2 0-0 4, E. Murphy 2 0-0 4, Thompson 0 1-2 1, C. Conley 0.
Totals: 8-5/3-5/34. 3-pointers: Cook 3, T. Conley 2.

USV 54 (4-4)
Rohrs 5 5-7 16, Hurley 5 3-3 16, Sanders 9 0-3 20, Stephens 0, Castle 1 0-0 2, Leonard 0. 
Totals: 14-6/8-13/54. 3-pointers: Hurley 3, Sanders 2, Rohrs 1.    
    1    2    3    4    F
Ada    5    7    9    13    34    
USV    11    13    17    13    54
JV: Ada 22, USV 13 (2-quarter game).

Ada (1-5 road) is idle Friday and then visits another county rival in Hardin Northern (5-4) Saturday night, January 16. 

HN beat USV 55-50 in the season-opener, and defeated Van Buren 63-58 Saturday. The improved Polar Bears are 3-2 at home this season.

"I think Hardin Northern has as solid a team as they have had in 30 years," said Cook. "They have some versatile ballhandlers and scorers. The Wilson brothers can shoot it. They have four guys who can hurt you on offense.

"They have a cohesive unit that has played toghether for a while," he continued. "They can spread the floor against our matchup defense, which will make things difficult for us. 

"It is another rivalry game, and hopefully we will play with some fire," he added.