BLUFFTON — Host Bluffton jumped to an early lead and held off scrappy rival Ada to post a 57-45 Northwest Conference boys basketball victory Friday night.

The defeat dropped the Bulldog record to 4-14 overall and 0-6 in the NWC, while the Pirates improved to 9-9 and 4-2 in the NWC with the victory.

Bluffton started all four periods with decisive runs, outscoring Ada by a combined total of 34-1 over the opening minutes of each stanza.

The Pirates ran out to an 8-0 lead behind two game-opening trifectas from freshman Luke Denecker, and they never trailed.

Senior Owen Conley got Ada on the board with a pull-up jumper, followed by a triple from classmate guard Seth Evans.

Bluffton post man Gabe Denecker scored two inside baskets. Yet
Bulldog sophomore Connor Frazier tallied inside and Conley bounced in a corner trifecta to cut the deficit to 16-10.

Frazier sank a layin off a Jordan Bailey pass, and Bailey nailed a trey late in the opening stanza to rally the purple and gold within 17-15.

Bluffton answered Ada's 8-1 spurt by beginning the second period with a 9-0 run of its own. Seven points off the bench by Zane Myers and a driving layup by Caleb Jefferson gave the Pirates a 26-15 cushion.

Frazier canned a turnaround fade and Bailey sank a putback to get Ada within 26-19. But the baskets would comprise the only four Bulldog points of the low-scoring period.

Pirate Anthony Kingsley converted a layin off a steal to make it 28-19 at intermission.

A 9-1 Bluffton flurry starting the second half extended the lead to a commanding 17. A third Denecker trey and three layups by Jefferson put Bluffton on top, 37-20.

Conley hit a layup and Ethan Swaney splashed consecutive treys to inch the visitors within 39-28. Gabe Denecker netted a turnaround shot, and Conley scored again to make the deficit 41-30 heading to the final period.

The Bulldogs battled but never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way. A Jefferson putback and free throw started the fourth quarter.

Luke Denecker drained a trey and a pull-up jumper as once again Bluffton started another quarter strong, this time with an 8-0 splurge that stretched their lead to 19. A Jakob Hoschak layin stopped the run, followed by a Conley turnaround shot.

Hoschak converted two foul shots to make it 49-36, but Pirate Trevor Bassitt connected on a momentum-stopping corner triple. Conley converted a three-point backdoor layup play to get Ada within 13 again.

Junior post Hoschak canned another pair at the stripe. But Luke Denecker hit three of six free throws down the stretch, and his older brother Gabe netted an inside goal to close the Bluffton scoring.

Evans sank a foul shot and a three from the top of the key to reduce the final margin to 12.

Conley was the lone Bulldog in double figures with 15 points.

Luke Denecker paced three Pirates in doube digits with a game-high 17 points. Jefferson and Myers each added 13 markers to the balanced Bluffton attack.

Ada sank 16 field goals, with six treys, and made half of their charity stripe attempts (7-14).

The Pirates canned 22 baskets, including five treys. The Bucs also converted just 50 percent at the stripe, as they nailed eight of 16 from the foul line.

Ada lost the JV contest, 49-26. Phillip Coulson paced the Bulldog reserves with eight points.

Ada 45 (4-14, 0-6 NWC)
Conley 6 2-4 15, Bailey 2 0-0 5, Swaney 2 0-0 6, Conrad 0, Evans 2 1-2 7, Mullins 0, Frazier 3 0-1 6, Hoschak 1 4-7 6.
Totals: 16/7-14/45. 3-pointers: Evans 2, Swaney 2, Conley 1, Bailey 1.

Bluffton 57 (9-9, 4-2 NWC)
Myers 5 3-4 13, L. Denecker 5 3-6 17, G. Denecker 4 0-0 8, Jefferson 6 1-4 13, Kingsley 1 1-2 3, Bassitt 1 0-0 3, Bricker 0.
Totals: 22/8-16/57. 3-pointers: L. Denecker 4, Bassett 1.

    1    2    3    4    F
Ada     15    4    11    15    45
Blu    17    11    13    16    57
JV: Bluffton 49, Ada 26.

The Bulldogs (2-6 home) host McComb in a non-league bout Saturday night, Feb. 11.