ADA - Host Ada closed the game on an 11-5 spurt to stave off New Knoxville 68-60 and record a big non-conference boys basketball victory Saturday night.
The Bulldogs improved to 3-7 with the win while NK dropped to 6-8.
The Rangers crept within 57-55 with 1:50 left on a layup by junior guard Andrew Arnett. But then Ada senior Spencer Archer punctuated his birthday with a huge play that turned out to be the backbreaker.
Archer drove the lane, collided with Arnett and finished a layup. The NK guard was whistled for his fifth foul on the contact and the old-fashioned three-point play put the Bulldogs in front by five with 1:20 left.
Brayden Sautter, fighting off calf cramps, canned a pair of foul shots to extend the lead to seven. NK's Jalen Fullenkamp buried a triple to slice the deficit to four.
Ada guard Blake Willeke netted a layin from Grant McBride, then McBride scored off a fullcourt in-bounds pass from Austin Dumbaugh.
Dumbaugh's two foul shots clinched it with 17.5 ticks left.
Ada enjoyed a balanced offensive effort, with four players in double figures and another with eight points.
"That is pretty good balance, we will take that any day," said 12th-year Ada head coach Chris Sautter. "We won it at the foul line with a a 20 to nine edge."
The Bulldogs converted 20 of 22 at the charity stripe (92 percent) while NK hit on nine of 15 (60 percent).
The Rangers raced to a 7-2 early lead. But then Ada went on a game-changing 16-0 flurry, and never relinquished the lead. A Sautter basket and Archer putback ignited the charge.
Sautter drained a right side triple to give Ada a 9-7 lead. Dumbaugh followed with a trifecta from the left wing to make it 12-7 after the first period.
The Bulldogs extended the run as Dumbaugh canned two more inside buckets to build the lead to 18-7. A Fullenkamp power layup ignited a Ranger spurt of their own as they reeled off the next nine points.
A left side banker by Willeke stopped the run and put Ada on top 20-16 with three minutes left in the half. Dumbaugh converted four consecutive foul shots and Willeke drilled a left baseline pull-up jumper just three ticks before intermision to put Ada on top 26-20 at the break.
Sautter and Arnett traded a pair of driving baskets each to open the third quarter. Two Willeke foul shots and a McBride fast break layin stretched the Bulldog lead to 35-24. 
A pretty backdoor three-point finish by Archer off a fine Sautter feed made it 38-27 midway through the stanza.
Isaac Kuntz converted back to back inside goals for the visitors. Yet Sautter, Dumbaugh and Archer each tallied layups for Ada. Sautter's driving layin put the purple and gold in front 46-33 before a trey by Shane Topp sliced it to 10.
Inside baskets by Ethan Kuck and Fullenkamp pulled NK within 46-40 as the third period ended with a 7-0 Ranger run.
Ada continued its barrage of back cut layups as Willeke scored off a Dumbaugh dish to open the final period. Adam Howe answered with a triple. 
Yet Sautter canned a floater in the lane, Dumbaugh scored inside and Levi Bass netted a putback that put Ada back in control, 54-43 with 5:46 remaining.
NK then got back in the game by ripping off eight consecutive points, capped by four Fullenkamp points, to edge within 54-51 at the 2:33 mark. 
McBride converted two clutch free throws with 2:16 to go, which was answered by a Ryan Lageman layin. 
Bass split a pair at the stripe and Arnett's driving layup cut the deficit to just two at the 1:50 mark. But then Ada went on its game-ending 11-5 spurt to put the game away.
"We had 12 transition points in the second half," a happy Sautter pointed out.
Sautter led Ada with 18 points, while Dumbaugh contributed 17. Willeke and Archer each scored 10 and McBride added eight.
"Austin had a real good game, Brayden played pretty well and Willeke played through illness," said Sautter. "Spencer gave us a good game, probably his best of the year."
Fullenkamp led all scorers with 23 and Arnett tallied 15.
Ada committed 11 turnovers to 13 by NK, and pulled down 10 offensive boards. 
"We put forth a good effort and shot well," Sautter summed up. 
The Bulldog reserves won 38-34 as Owen Conley poured in 21 points, improving their mark to 6-4. 

Ada 68 (3-7)
Sautter 7 3-3 18, Willeke 4 2-2 10, McBride 2 4-5 8, Dumbaugh 5 6-6 17, Bass 1 3-4 5, Archer 4 2-2 10, Ansley 0, Lehsten 0. 
Totals: 23/20-22/68. 3-pointers: Dumbaugh 1, Sautter 1.
NK 60 (6-8)
Arnett 7 1-1 15, Kuntz 2 0-0 4, Lageman 2 2-2 6, Howe 2 0-0 5, Topp 1 0-0 3, B. Kuck 0 1-4 1, Fullenkamp 9 4-6 23, E. Kuck 1 1-2 3. Totals: 24/9-15/60. 3-pointers: Fullenkamp 1, Howe 1, Topp 1.
1 2 3 4 F
Ada 12 14 20 22 68
NK 7 13 20 20 60
JV: Ada 38, NK 34.

The Bulldogs (1-3 at home) entertain tough non-league foe Perry (10-2) Wednesday, Jan. 22 in a makeup game. 
"You're not going to stop Hodges and Poling (who combine to average over 45 ppg), but you want to contain them," Sautter said of the Commodore duo. "Then you hope the other guys they have don't hurt you."
Ada (2-4 on the road) then visits Hardin County foe Kenton (3-5) Saturday, January 25.