ADA — The visiting Ridgemont boys basketball team rallied in the second half to nip county rival Ada 55-51 in a hard-fought Friday night season-opener.

Smooth Gopher sophomore Landon Newland tallied all 21 of his points in the second half, paving the way to victory via a 32-22 advantage after intermission.

Newland netted 11 points in the decisive third period as Ridgemont rallied from a 29-23 halftime deficit with a 17-9 quarter to grab a two-point lead heading to the final stanza.

Newland then scored the last 10 Gopher points over the final 3:40 to stave off the feisty Bulldogs.

"Newland is a pretty good player, but we didn't do a great job against him," said Ada fourth-year head coach Dre White. "It was a little disappointing how we guarded Newland and Stuck after talking about them for three weeks, but they are a good tandem."

Newland and fellow sophomore Mason Stuck combined to score 29 of the 32 Ridgemont points in the second half.

"I thought our shooting numbers were the story on offense," White continued. "We shot 33 percent and made only five of 23 three's. That isn't us. I thought we had a lot of good looks. And we didn't make free throws (6-19)."

The Gophers improved to 1-0 with the victory, while Ada starts out 0-1.

Ada junior playmaker Brandon Hull started the game strongly with two driving layups and a reverse layin as the Bulldogs built a 6-3 lead. Two Phillip Coulson foul shots and a back cut layin by Micah Cook extended the lead to 10-5.

But a baseline driving shot and a right wing triple by Gopher junior Jayden Streets tied it 10-10. Bulldog junior guard Zac Swaney canned a right wing trey to give Ada a 13-12 lead after one period of play.

Sheets sank a baseline shot to open the second stanza. Cook answered by nailing a left corner trifecta. Ada senior Jake Rayl then grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Coulson nicely under the hoop in traffic. Coulson converted a traditional three-point play inside at the 6:11 mark to put the Bulldogs on top, 19-14.

A power layup by Grant Reppart cut the deficit to three, yet Rayl canned a driving layup to restore the lead to five at 21-16. Two Reppart foul shots were offset by another driving layin from Hull.

At the 3:07 mark, Hull followed his own miss by scoring inside as he converted the old-fashioned three-point play for a 26-20 margin. Cook then netted a left-handed layup off a strong offensive rebound.

Hull split a pair of free throw to give Ada its biggest lead at  29-20. A Reppart foul shot and a runner by Sheets 13 seconds before intermission pulled the Gophers within 29-23 at the half.

An 11-foot fadeaway from Stuck and a fast break layup by Newland inched the Gophers within 29-28 with 4:22 left in the third quarter.

Rayl knocked down a right side 19-footer, followed by a pull-up left side bank shot from Gopher senior guard Connor Martino. Coulson drained a triple to put the hosts ahead 34-30, yet Newland hit a driving banker at the 3:05 juncture.

A pretty give-and-go from Stuck to Newland tied it 26 seconds later, 34-all. Senior post Ty Miller gave Ada a 36-34 lead with a layup. Yet Newland hit a foul shot and a transition layin to put the visitors ahead, 37-36.

A power layup from Hull gave Ada its last lead at 38-37 with a minute to go in the third stanza. Stuck tied it by splitting two charity stripers, and Newland put the Gophers ahead going to the final period on a driving layup.

Stuck splashed a left wing three-pointer 44 seconds into the fourth quarter to build the Ridgemont lead to five. Cook sank a 12-footer from the left baseline to keep Ada within 43-40. Stuck sank a backdoor layin to restore the lead to five at the 6:16 mark.

Hull drilled a left wing triple as Ada inched within 45-43 with 4:11 remaining. Rayl tied it 45-45 on a layup off a midair save/assist from Hull as he went out of bounds.

But then Newland took over. He sank a foul shot with 3:40 left to break a tie and give the Gophers the lead for good. The 6-3 sophomore then buried a left wing trifecta at the 3:07 mark for a 49-45 edge.

Hull canned a driving layin to cut the lead to two, but moments later missed two free throws that would have tied it. Newland spun to the basket and sank a bank shot to go ahead 51-47 with 1:40 to go.

Coulson swished a left corner trey to pull Ada within 51-50, yet another missed foul shot cost them a chance to tie it up.

Sheets then missed the front end of a one-and-one with 35 seconds left, but the ball bounced right back to him and the Gophers got possession on the ensuing scrum that ended in a jump ball.

At the 25-second mark, Newland drew Hull's fifth foul and converted both key foul shots to lead 53-50. Ada went for the tie and got an open shot from just beyond the arc, but Swaney's left wing triple rimmed out.

"We got the look we wanted, it was a good shot," explained White afterward.

Ridgemont rebounded and Newland was fouled with 10.1 ticks left. Again he converted both free tosses to build the lead to 55-50. Swaney was fouled dribbling speedily upcourt and made the first free throw with 7.7 seconds left to cut the deficit to four.

His second shot missed and Ada corraled the rebound, but Cook's hurried three from out top came up short. Sheets was fouled on the rebound and missed both foul shots, but there was little time left for the Bulldogs to get the ball upcourt as time expired.

"Fatigue at the end was possibly a factor," White admitted. "We have a short rotation right now."

The Bulldogs shot just 33 percent from the field (20-60). They canned five of 23 from beyond the arc (22 percent) and sank 15 of 37 from two-point range (41 percent).

Ada converted just six of 19 from the charity stripe (32 percent).

The Gophers sank 19 of its 43 field goal tries (44 percent). They made 15 of 35 from two-point range (43 percent) and drilled four of eight from three-point territory (50 percent).

Ridgemont sank 13 of 21 at the foul line (62 percent), including five of six down the final stretch by Newland.

Ada out-rebounded the Gophers, 39-34. Coulson and Rayl each grabbed eight rebounds, while Cook snared seven caroms. The Bulldogs committed only eight turnovers, with just two miscues in the second half.

"I was pleased with our low number of turnovers," said White. Ridgemont committed 13 errors.
Hull led Ada with 19 points and several assists. "I look for Brandon to have a good year for us," White noted.

Coulson tallied 11 points and Cook added nine. Stuck supported Newland with 15 points, while Sheets added a dozen markers.

"Ridgemont is a young, good team," summed up White. "We just have to mentally lock in."

Ada won the junior varsity game, 61-34. Junior Trent Ennis led the Bulldog reserves with 19 points and classmate Tristan Conley netted 15. Gopher Lane Underwood tallied 18 points.

Ada 51 (0-1)
Swaney 1 1-4 4, Murphy 0, Hull 8 2-10 19, Coulson 3 3-5 11, Rayl 3 0-0 6, Cook 4 0-0 9, Miller 1 0-0 2, Paul 0.
Totals: 20-60/6-19/51. 3-pointers (5-23): Coulson 2, Swaney 1, Hull 1, Cook 1.

Ridgemont 55 (1-0)
Sheets 5 1-4 12, Martino 1 0-2 2, Reppart 1 3-4 5, Newland 7 6-8 21, Stuck 5 3-3 15.
Totals: 19-43/13-21/55. 3-pointers (4-8): Stuck 2, Sheets 1, Newland 1.
    1    2    3    4    F
Ada    13    16    9    13    51    
Ridg    12     11    17    15    55
JV: Ada 61, Ridgemont 34.

Ada hosts Fort Jennings (0-1) Saturday evening, November 30. The Musketeers lost their opener at Arlington Friday night, 72-53.

"Fort Jennings will give us a lot different look from Ridgemont," said White. "They are a bit taller, lankier. They run a lot of high-low stuff inside. I look for us to shoot better Saturday night