By NATHAN INNIGER
ADA — When opposing coaches try to figure out how to stop Cory-Rawson’s offense, senior Maycen Ward is likely not a focal point of the discussion.
On Friday night, however, Ward hit the biggest shot of the night as he sank a 15-foot baseline jumper with 4.9 seconds left in the game to lift the Hornets to a thrilling 44-42 nonconference boys basketball win over Ada.
After Ada junior post Austin Dumbaugh made the second of two free throws to tie the game, the Bulldogs applied full-court pressure.
The ball was advanced across the time line to Grant Risner near the top of the key. Risner then found Ward all alone on the baseline.
“It was crazy. That is my shot, I normally shoot that all of the time,” Ward said. “It was a good pass, and I was there at the right time and I just sunk it.”
“That’s his shot, he always shoots it short corner in,” senior guard Tyler Harris said. “As soon as he shot it, I was ready backside for the rebound.
“I knew it was in and that was a big shot.”
Ada (2-4) had a chance to win, but Micah Roberson’s fading 3-pointer from the wing fell off the side of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
The game was tight throughout with Cory-Rawson (3-3) holding a slim lead for most of the game.
Halfway through the second quarter, Harris and Matthew Alspach each made 3-pointers from the wing and Risner had a steal and lay-up on a 7-0 Cory-Rawson run which put the Hornets ahead 25-17.
Cory-Rawson built seven-point leads three times during the third quarter, but Ada kept the Hornets from pulling away.
Harris led C-R with 19 points including two 3-pointers and 7 of 9 free throws.
He was able to score despite constant pressure, as Ada tried to keep him from getting the ball.
“It’s kind of up to my teammates to take control and then they hit me up for some baskets when I get open,” Harris said.
The Hornets also got solid contributions from Ward (nine points), Risner (six points, seven rebounds) and other players who stepped up on the defensive end.
“Tyler kind of carries the load, but we have to have other guys step up,” said Cory-Rawson coach Aaron Long.
“Tonight we had that happen and for us to be successful that is what we have to do.”
Cory-Rawson, which never trailed in the second half, took a 42-37 lead when Harris made the second of two free throws with 2:55 left in the game.
The Bulldogs made 5 of 6 free throws on their next three possessions and held the Hornets scoreless during that stretch. That tied the game and set up Ward’s heroics.
“We played well, we had some struggles down the stretch, but we kept it together when it mattered the most in crunch time and had a senior do what you hope seniors do and that is hit a big shot at the end,” Long said.
Ada was victimized by poor ball control and shooting from the field.
The Bulldogs committed 17 turnovers and were just 14 of 39 shooting.
Dumbaugh led Ada with 15 points and nine rebounds.
“We are having a hard time finding roles that people can play and be really, really good at,” Ada coach Chris Sautter said.
“You hold a team to 44 points, that is good enough defensively to give yourself a chance to win.
“We have to execute better, we have to finish better, we have to knock down more shots and above all we have to take care of the basketball.”
For Cory-Rawson it was a huge win on the road for a relatively inexperienced team that returned just three players who earned significant playing time a season ago.
“It was big considering that we don’t have a lot of experience in games like this,” Long said.
“For us to pull one out against a team that we haven’t beat in a long time, it gives us a lot of confidence.”
It’s a win the Hornets hope will give the team momentum going forward.
“In the five years I have been here, we haven’t been close (against Ada), so for us to come into their place and beat them on their floor in a game like this really is huge,” Long said.
“It’s a good win for the program,” Ward said. “We have been increasing in wins, we have been getting better and better as the years go on and hopefully we keep that momentum.”
Harris 5-7—19, Sands 0-0—0, Alspach 2-0—5, Ward 3-3—9, Risner 3-0—6, Shepler 1-0—3, Welch 1-0—2, Reichley 0-0—0. TOTALS: 15-45 10-16—44.
Szippl 0-0—0, Sautter 2-0—4, M. Roberson 2-4—8, Cobb 2-0—5, Sutton 1-0—3, Acheson 0-0—0, E. Roberson 0-0—0, Dumbaugh 4-7—15, Decker 3-0—7. TOTALS: 14-39 11-13—42.
Cory-Rawson 10 15 12 7 — 44
Ada 10 11 14 7 — 42
3-Point GOALS: Cory-Rawson 4-13 (Harris 2, Alspach & Acheson 1); Ada 3-18 (Cobb, Sutton & Decker 1).
rebounds: Cory-Rawson 30 (Risner 7); Ada 30 (Dumbaugh 9, Acheson 8).
turnovers: Cory-Rawson 12, Ada 17.