|03/11/20 - |
MIDWEST CITY — It was tough. It wasn’t pretty. But it doesn’t matter.
The seventh-ranked Ada Cougars clipped Cache 26-24 in a Class 4A Area Tournament slugfest Saturday night inside the J.E. Sutton Field House in Midwest City.
The consolation championship victory guaranteed Ada a spot in this week’s Class 4A State Tournament. The Cougars, who improved to 21-6 on the year, will meet No. 3 Holland Hall (23-3) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the state tournament at Deer Creek High School.
Cache ended its season at 16-12.
“They like the drama,” Ada head coach Garland Parks joked after the game.
“I thought we made some poor plays to let them back in the game, but everybody hung in there and fought through the adversity and never gave up. It shows some growth in these young men,” he said. “I’m proud of these guys.”
Jaxson Robinson hit a 3-pointer at the 6:58 mark of the fourth quarter that put Ada on top 23-21. The Cougars then went on a drought.
Jediael Gladney, who hit four 3-pointers for all 12 of his points in leading the Bulldog offense, made his final triple with 5:22 left to give Cache a slim 24-23 lead. For a while, it looked like neither team was going to score again.
Late in the fourth, Carlos Harbin of Cache made a steal and appeared to be on his way to an easy layup. However, Kaden Cooper had other ideas. He caught Harbin from behind and nearly swatted his shot out of the building for a big Ada defensive stand.
With just over a minute left, Robinson got the ball near the top of the key and drove down to his right. He passed through a double team to teammate Austin Eastwood, who banked home a shot to put Ada ahead 25-24.
On the other end, Harbin drove hard to the basket, but Eastwood was there to step in front and drew a pivotal charging foul.
Parks wasn’t surprised that Eastwood was involved in the back-to-back game-changing plays.
“Austin has made good plays for us all year — plays that don’t necessarily show up in the stat sheet. But they’re plays you have to have if you’re going to beat a good team,” he said. “He seems like he’s in the right place at the right time every time.”
Trey Havens was quickly fouled and hit the first of two free throws to put Ada ahead 26-24 with 23 seconds remaining.
Cache called time out with 7.9 seconds left to set up a final play. Gladney ended up with the ball but fell to the ground. However, he shoveled the ball to Christian Daniel, who was alone in the corner. Daniel attempted the go-ahead 3-pointer, but the ball clanged off the far side of the rim and Eastwood secured the rebound as time ran out.
“Something we’ve talked about all year is having that tough mental and physical toughness, and this was a tough, physical game. The guys hung in there and made plays when they needed to. And here we are,” Parks said.
Robinson made his way through the Cache defense for a monstrous dunk at the 4:24 of the third quarter after a nice pass from Jake Shannon to give Ada a 20-11 advantage.
Cache quickly stole the momentum when Gladney and Jacob Mayeu hit back-to-back 3-pointers that trimmed the CHS deficit to 20-17.
Daniel scored on a putback with 2:16 left in the third frame, and Ada carried a 20-19 lead into the fourth quarter.
Ada led 15-9 at halftime, thanks in part to a pair of Shannon 3-point baskets. However, they were the only two triples he would attempt, and he finished with those six points to go with six rebounds.
Robinson led Ada with 16 points, including three 3-pointers, but missed six attempts in a row during one cold stretch. Cooper scored just one point but had five rebounds and four blocks.
Both teams shot below average in the defensive war. Cache finished 8-of-30 (26.7%), while Ada went 9-of-35 (25.7%).
It’s a good thing style points don’t matter.
“We’re happy that we’re going (to state). This was certainly our goal, to get there. Whatever happens, after you get there, happens,” Parks said.