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Bulldog rally just short vs. rival Polar Bears

By Cort Reynolds

The Ada High School boys basketball team spent most of this home game trying to catch up but never quite could as they dropped a hard-fought 53-47 decision to county rival Hardin Northern in their annual matchup Saturday night, January 15.

The Bulldogs trailed 11-7 after one period, and HN extended the lead to 27-17 at halftime. Ada sliced the deficit to 33-32 late in the third period and crept within three points twice in the final stanza, but never was able to take the lead.

The Bulldogs fell to 4-10 with the non-conference loss. Meanwhile, HN improved to 8-5 with the rivalry win.

"I am pleased that after digging a hole early we competed and didn't give in," said first-year Bulldog head coach Vince Halliday. "We just could never get over the hump.

"I thought they played more downhill than us, and were more aggressive," he added.

The Bulldogs trailed 8-4 early when junior guard Spencer Wall nailed a top of the key triple. Three points from Preston Wykes gave HN an 11-7 edge after one quarter.

Colby Curtis tallied three layups to open the second stanza for the Polar Bears, sandwiched around a Cayden Murphy lane shot.

Wykes drained a right corner triple, which was answered by a Wall left wing trifecta. Carter Conley sank a 10-foot pull-up shot to get Ada within 21-14. 

Zeb Wilson nailed a 15-footer, yet Ethan Murphy responded with a left wing triple 17 seconds before intermission. But HN executed its last possession well as Curtis swished a corner trey just before the halftime horn to build the Bear lead back to 10.

Ada scored the first five points out of the locker room on a Cayden Murphy layin and another left wing triple from Wall.

Wilson answered by drilling a 12-foot jumper, followed by a Wykes 17-foot swisher from the circle. The athletic Cayden Murphy then netted consecutive Bulldog baskets in a 10-second span.

Grant Preston muscled in a layup to edge Ada to 31-28 with three minutes left in the period. Bear 6-3 senior Nevin Robson sank a lane floater 16 seconds later, but Cayden Murphy canned a spinning right baseline eight-footer at the 2:11 mark. 

Ada junior Carter Conley grabbed a weak side offensive board and laid it in to cut the deficit to a single point with 1:11 left. 

One play later the Bulldogs had a chance to take the lead, but a three-pointer missed.

The determined Robson then took over and wasn't going to let HN lose. He scored seven straight points to put Northern back on top 40-32 heading to the final stanza.

Another Conley stickback started the final period strongly for Ada. Robson splashed two foul shots, followed by a spinning banker from Cayden Murphy at the 6:32 mark.

Robson and Ethan Murphy traded two foul shots apiece. Ethan Murphy then drained a three from out top to pull Ada within 44-41.

Two Zeb Wilson free tosses were answered by yet another offensive rebound basket inside by Conley.

HN went into a delay game, and Wilson converted two foul shots with 4:14 left. Robson drove through the right side of the defense for a layup and a 50-43 lead.

But Jaden Leal sank a putback layin with 1:45 left to keep Ada alive. Wall then canned a tough 11-foot lane leaner at the 1:12 juncture to inch the Bulldogs within 51-47.

Robson split four foul shots in the final minute, sandwiched around an Ada miss and a last-ditch Bulldog turnover. HN then ran off the final seconds to hold on for the victory.

Murphy led Ada with 16 points with accurate eight for 10 field goal shooting, and he grabbed five rebounds. Wall contributed 11 points with three treys. He also compiled six assists, four rebounds and four steals.

"Cayden had a solid game, we need to do a better job of getting him the ball," said Halliday. "When you shoot eight for 10 you need to get up more shots. Spencer played better, but still needs to be more aggressive offensively."

Ethan Murphy and Conley each tallied eight markers. Conley also snared nine rebounds.

Robson led all players with 23 points, including 13 of 18 foul shooting. "He is a big strong guy and a good player," said Halliday. "But I thought we did a pretty good job on him."

Wykes tallied 11 points, and Wilson added eight.

Ada connected on 20 baskets, draining 15 two-pointers and five trifectas. The Bulldogs converted two of their mere three charity stripe attempts (67 percent).

The Bulldogs got outscored 19-2 at the foul line. Northern canned 11 of 15 from the foul line in the fourth period alone, making just one basket.

"We did win the second half (30-26)," Halliday pointed out. 

HN canned 16 baskets, connecting on 14 two-pointers and two triples. The Polar Bears hit on 19 of 29 free throw attempts (66 percent). 

Northern also won a close JV game, 46-40. Kaine Fisher led Ada with 11 points. Gage Hoffer and Brody Erickson each netted 10. Xander Wilson topped the HN reserves with 12 points. Sean Kuhlman and Carter Curtis tallied 10 apiece.


Ada 47 (4-10)

C. Murphy 8 0-1 16, Conley 4 0-0 8, Sutherly 0, Leal 1 0-0 2, Wall 4 0-0 11, Preston 1 0-0 2, E. Murphy 2 2-2 8.

Totals: 15-5/2-3/47. 3-pointers: Wall 3, E. Murphy 2.


HN 53 (8-5)

Col. Curtis 4 0-1 9, Wykes 3 4-6 11, Robson 5 13-18 23, Z. Wilson 3 2-2 8, Thomas 0, Hooker 1 0-0 2.

Totals: 14-2/19-29/53. 3-pointers: Col. Curtis 1, Wykes 1.


1 2 3 4 F

Ada 7 10 15 15 47

HN 11 16 13 13 53

JV: HN 46, Ada 40.

The Bulldogs host Arlington (7-7) in a non-league battle Tuesday night, January 18. The Red Devils lost 56-50 to Spencerville Saturday.

Ada then visits county rival Kenton (3-9) Saturday, Jan. 22. The Wildcats have lost seven in a row after a 3-2 start under new head coach Ryan Miller.