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June 1, 2020

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Pirates win NWC opener in 61-44 Ada victory

Mason Soper scores 9 of his 18 points in second quarter

By Cort Reynolds
BLUFFTON - Host Bluffton ran out to a sizeable halftime lead and posted a 61-44 win over local rival Ada in the Northwest Conference boys basketball opener for both teams Friday night.

The Pirates improved to 3-0 and 1-0 in league play with the victory, while the Bulldogs fell to 1-4 and 0-1 with the defeat.

Bluffton extended a six-point first period lead to 15 at halftime with a 19-10 second period outburst. The Pirates essentially maintained that lead the rest of the way to win by 17.

"Our effort was great, we just didn't make enough of the winning plays that we needed," said Bulldog fourth-year head coach Dre White. "We had a slow start and we couldn't climb out (of that hole), but we had only a two-point differential in the second half."

The second half was nearly even with the Pirates outscoring Ada, 27-25.

Pirate senior Luke Denecker led all scorers with 24 points. Classmate Mason Soper contributed nine of his 18 points in the decisive second stanza.

"Denecker is obviously as complete a player as they come," said White. "His runningmates Soper and (Jared) Piercefield make them a tough matchup for any team."

Ada junior point guard Brandon Hull paced the Bulldogs with 20 points, nine of which came in the final period. Junior guard Micah Cook netted a career-high 11 points. Senior wing Phillip Coulson added eight markers.

Bluffton dominated the boards, 45-20. "Their size impacted us in many ways," noted White of the major rebounding differential.

The Bulldogs connected on 17 of 47 shots from the field (36 percent). They canned three of 13 beyond the arc (23 percent), and found the bottom of the net on 14 of 34 two-point shots (41 percent). 

Ada converted seven of 12 from the charity stripe (58 percent). 

The Pirates shot a solid 46 percent overall from the floor, sinking 24 of 52 field goal tries. Bluffton made a strong 21 of 37 from two-point range (57 percent), yet hit on just three of 15 from three-point territory (20 percent). 

Bluffton canned 10 of 17 at the charity stripe (59 percent).

For the third straight game Hull topped the Bulldogs in rebounds by grabbing four caroms. Ada was guilty of 13 turnovers, while Bluffton committed 16 errors.

Bluffton also won the junior varsity game, 52-32. The Ada reserves fell to 2-3 with the loss. Tristan Conley led the Bulldog JV with 12 points.

Ada 44 (1-4, 0-1 NWC)
Swaney 1 0-0 3, Murphy 1 0-0 2, Hull 8 4-8 20, Coulson 3 2-2 8, Rayl 0, Cook 4 1-2 11, Miller 0.
Totals: 17-47/7-12/44. 3-pointers (3-13): Cook 2, Swaney 1.

Bluffton 61 (3-0, 1-0 NWC)
Schriner 0 1-2 1, Soper 8 1-3 18, Piercefield 4 1-2 9, Denecker 8 6-6 24, Essinger 3 1-2 7, Hohenbrink 1 0-0 2, Ault 0 0-2 0. 
Totals: 24-52/10-17/61. 3-pointers (3-15): Denecker 2, Soper 1.
    1    2    3    4    F
Ada    9    10    11    14    44    
Blf    15    19    11    16    61
JV: Bluffton 52, Ada 32. 

After three straight road losses to tough teams, Ada (1-1 home) returns home to host talented NWCC foe Perry Saturday night, Dec. 14. 

The Commodores (5-1) crushed Marion Elgin 83-23 to register their fourth consecutive victory Friday night. Perry's lone loss came in their season opener at home to Delphos St. John's, 63-58.

"Coach Tabler's group will bring what they always do, a ton of energy and a ton of pressure," said White. "We will have to match their intensity and take care of the basketball."

Bluffton visits struggling McComb (0-3) Saturday night in a non-league bout.