Allen East senior Kaycee Rowe is congratulated by teammates after scoring her 1,000 point Thursday night in a win over rival Ada. (Ada Herald/Cort Reynolds)
HARROD - Allen East senior Kaycee Rowe surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career and led a third-period rally that propelled the host Lady Mustangs past backyard rival Ada 50-44 in a spirited Northwest Conference battle Thursday night.
Rowe netted the milestone on a free throw in the second quarter to give AE a 16-9 lead. But the ensuing short celebration seemed to take some wind out of the hosts.
Previously cold-shooting Ada seized control via a 13-2 run to end the half as junior Tori Wyss scored 10 consecutive points to spearhead the Bulldog spurt.
Yet Rowe tallied eight third period markers as AE went on runs of 7-0 and 8-0 en route to a 19-4 quarter edge. The Mustangs then withstood a late Ada threat to post the victory.
Ada saw their record drop to 5-7 and 1-3 with the defeat, while AE improved to 10-4 overall and 4-0 in NWC action.
"Kudos to Kaycee Rowe," offered Ada head coach Neal Dumbaugh. "We shut her out last year and I know she had this game circled. Points in transition off turnovers really hurt us."
AE head coach Jarrod Wehri said his team was fired-up to play before a large, boisterous crowd on two main fronts.
"We had a couple of goals going in; we wanted to work hard for Kaycee to get 1,000 (she had 994 coming in), and to get an NWC win," he said. "She has put a lot of time in on her game in-season and in the summer, and I couldn't be more proud of her."
AE raced to a 12-2 lead as London Richardson buried a trifecta and Ada missed its first several shots from the field.
Wyss drilled four foul shots and Amburgey canned a trey for the first Bulldog basket late in the period. But three foul shots and a late layup by Rowe gave AE a 14-7 lead after one quarter.
Wyss got Ada going with a putback to start the second stanza. Rowe then surpassed the barrier with 7:22 left in the half by draining two charity stripers.
After a brief break to recognize her achievement, the Bulldogs took control. Rachel Wildman banked in a nice baseline drive, Sidney Faine made a foul shot and Wyss splashed a left corner triple to creep within 16-15 at the 4:44 mark.
A bank shot by Erin Conkle stopped the 6-0 Bulldog run momentarily. But Wyss tied it by swishing a right wing trifecta with 1:55 left.
The feisty junior then tossed home a half hook in the lane to give the visitors their first lead, 20-18. With 11 ticks to go in the half, she sank a power layup for her 16th point, giving Ada a 22-18 bulge at intermission.
"It was hard to contain our emotions," explained Wehri of his team's letdown after Rowe hit number 1,000. "She is an even better person than she is a player."
Ada then went on runs of 6-0 and 7-0 to lead by four.
"I was pleased going into halftime with how we came back from 12-2," said Dumbaugh.
However, AE turned that momentum around with a big flurry of its own to begin the second half. Carly Clum scored on a baseline follow shot, then Rowe stole the ball and netted a fast break goal to tie it, 22-22.
Conkle next came up with a steal and tallied a traditional three-point play in transition to put the Mustangs ahead for good. In just 47 seconds, AE scored seven unanswered points to fire the crowd back up.
Wyss stopped the splurge briefly by hitting a pair at the line. But then AE reeled off eight straight points in a row to take command.
Conkle muscled in a short lane shot, and then Rowe maneuvered through the defense for a driving scoop off glass. She then sank a bank shot after a coast-to-coast drive.
Aubri Woods capped the run with a layup at the three-minute mark that gave AE a 33-24 cushion.
Bulldog Brittney Archer split a pair at the foul line, yet Rowe responded with a short half-hook. Conkle then canned a layup off a nice Rowe diagonal bounce pass to build the biggest margin of the night to a dozen.
A free toss by Amburgey cut it to 37-26 after three periods, but AE had taken control with a 19-4 quarter.
"We were protecting some people from foul trouble in the first half," said Wehri of the third period explosion. "We just came out energized and re-focused in the second half."
Faine drilled a right corner triple to open the final stanza. Yet Clum answered with a trey of her own from out top 17 seconds later.
Amburgey posted up and banked in a short shot for an old-fashioned three-point play, making it 40-32 with 6:33 remaining.
Faine scored inside to slice the deficit to six. Clum then netted a layup off a Rowe feed with 5:33 to go.
Rowe then made a nice catch of a long pass and finished in transition with a layup for a 44-34 advantage. A Wyss free throw and a breakaway by Amburgey brought Ada within 44-37 at the 3:20 mark.
Speedy Mustang guard Lyndsi Woods then delivered the back-breaking blows. She stole the ball and went the length of the floor for a basket.
Seconds later the senior came up with another swipe and converted a left-handed layup that crawled in for a 48-37 lead with 2:34 left.
"Her effort is the key to our defense," noted Wehri. "She did a lockdown job on Wyss in the second half. We had her face guard her, and she held her to five points."
Ada did not go down easily, though. Two Tori Wyss free throws and a trey from the top of the circle by freshman Haley Wyss kept the visitors alive, down 48-42 with 1:44 to go.
AE missed five of seven foul shots down the final stretch. But Ada could not capitalize. "We threw the ball away on two straight possessions," lamented Dumbaugh.
Senior Alexis Gonzaga canned a fast break layin with 20 ticks remaining to bring Ada within 50-44. But Conkle came up with two big steals and a pair of rebounds on missed triple tries in the waning moments to keep the Bulldogs at bay.
"Conkle really moved her feet well," noted Wehri. "Any time you have a post player do that, you have a great chance to succeed."
Rowe paced the Mustangs with 17 points while Conkle contributed 14 and Clum added nine.
Tori Wyss led all scorers with 21 points. Amburgey added nine.
Ada canned 13 of 17 from the charity stripe (76 percent) while AE converted 12 of 18 (67 percent).
"It's about focus and toughness," summed up Dumbaugh after the loss, their seventh in nine games. "We are so soft. We have a couple kids who are tough."
"Give Ada a lot of credit, they have a nice ball club," said Wehri. "A lot of teams have had much more trouble breaking our pressure."
The Lady Bulldog reserves improved to 6-6 with a 31-10 victory. Morgan Sutton led a balanced attack with eight points. Kaitlyn McKeever topped AE with five points.
Ada 44 (5-7, 1-3 NWC)
Gonzaga 1 0-0 2, Amburgey 3 2-2 9, Faine 2 1-2 6, Walden 0, H. Wyss 1 0-0 3, Wildman 1 0-1 2, T. Wyss 5 9-10 21, Archer 0 1-2 1. Totals: 13/13-17/44. 3-pointer: T. Wyss 2, Amburgey 1, Faine 1, H. Wyss 1.
AE 50 (10-4, 4-0 NWC)
Rowe 6 5-6 17, A. Woods 1 1-4 3, L. Woods 2 0-0 4, Richardson 1 0-0 3, Plaugher 0, Clum 3 2-3 9, Conkle 5 4-5 14.
Totals: 18/12-18/50. 3-pointers: Richardson 1, Clum 1.
1 2 3 4 F
Ada 7 15 4 18 44
AE 14 4 19 13 50
JV score: Ada 31, AE 10.
Ada visits BVC foe McComb Saturday afternoon, Jan. 18. "They only have seven players, but they are good," warned Dumbaugh.
The Bulldogs then make up their postponed non-league game at home vs. former NWC member Perry on Martin Luther King evening Monday, Jan. 20.
Due in part to a makeup date, Ada is in the midst of playing five games over a tough nine-day span. They host LCC Jan. 23 and visit Waynesfield Jan. 25 in a pair of non-conference rivalry contests.
AE hosts Elida Saturday in a non-league Allen County battle.