The Ada High School boys basketball team was involved in a classic Thursday night at the 2020 East Central Oklahoma Classic.
The game was tied with less than a minute left, and the Ada boys were trying to set up a good shot. Lawton Eisenhower deflected the ball, and Jake Shannon grabbed it, turned toward the basket and fired a pass to Wyatt Brown in the paint.
The freshman hit a layup, was fouled and made the clutch free throw to help the Cougars edge the Eagles 52-49 in a thrilling first-round matchup late Thursday night inside the Cougar Activity Center.
Ada, ranked No. 6 in Class 4A, improved to 6-3 on the year while Lawton Eisenhower — No. 18 in Class 5A — dropped to 3-5.
Brown’s heroics came with 34.4 seconds remaining, and the dangerous Eagles still had plenty of time to counter. After a timeout with 17.8 ticks left, Bryan Crittenden launched a 3-pointer that was off the mark. Teammate Cory McClellend was able to hustle for the rebound and pass the ball out to Diego Toca, but he wasn’t able to get off another shot before the buzzer sounded as Ada held on.
“We came through with the win. It wasn’t pretty, but our guys showed a lot of toughness down the stretch,” said Ada boys coach Garland Parks. “We talk all the time about being mentally and physically tough, and games like that put us in the position to test that.”
The game was tight over the final 22 minutes. The fourth quarter alone featured two ties and three lead changes.
The Eagles took their last lead of the game after a 3-pointer by Crittenden put Eisenhower ahead 47-44.
Trey Havens quickly answered with a 3-point shot of his own that tied the game, and David Johnson hit a short jumper with just under three minutes to play to put the Cougars on top 49-47.
Ada got the ball back with 2:07 left, and Parks decided to call a timeout. Ada was late getting out of the huddle, and the referee put the ball on the ground and began his five count.
Brown rushed to get the ball and throw it inbounds, but his pass was stolen by Diego Toca, who sped down the floor for a layup for the Lawton club that again tied the score at 49-49. with 1:08 remaining. That set the stage for the frantic ending.
It was all Ada for the first 10 minutes of the contest.
The Cougar jumped out to an 18-9 lead to start the game after Havens began the second quarter with a 3-point jumper. At that point, Lawton Eisenhower was 1-of-10 from the floor but had at least stayed within striking distance by sinking 7-of-7 free throws.
Kaden Cooper drained a 3-pointer from NBA range and followed that with a fast-break bucket with just over six minutes left in the second period to give Ada its biggest lead of the contest at 23-11.
The Cougars then went ice cold.
Lawton Eisenhower engineered a 12-0 run, capped by a basket from Shawn Williams that followed a steal by Dwan McNeil, that tied the game at 23-23 early in the third quarter. The game stayed close from that point on.
“We got away from what we were doing earlier to be successful. We got a little lackadaisical and did a few things that were out of character,” Parks said of the Eagles’ comeback.
Ada junior David Johnson had his best game of the year, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the Cougars.
“David can do that every single game. He really brought it tonight. He banged the glass, he played tremendous defense and hit some big shots,” Parks said. “He can do that every single night, and that’s what we expect from David. Hopefully, this game gave him some confidence to continue playing that way.”
Brown, making his first varsity start, added 12 points and seven rebounds. Havens hit three big 3-pointers off the bench for his nine points.
Ada standout Jaxson Robinson, who was pushed around and double-teamed most of the game by a physical Eisenhower defense, scored just six points and returned to the court moments after the game to work on his shot.
The Cougars held a 39-25 rebounding edge.
Toca led the Eagles with 15 points and was the only player on his team to reach double figures. But four other Eisenhower players scored at least six points.
It was a little measure of revenge for the Cougars. Lawton Eisenhower eliminated Ada from the playoffs last March with a 64-49 win in a Class 5A Area Tournament game.
Ada played Class 5A No. 10 Collinsville in the ECOC semifinals Friday night.