BLUFFTON — Bluffton came out running, and never slowed down.
Bluffton’s defensive pressure wreaked havoc on Ada in Thursday’s Northwest Conference girls’ basketball opener, forcing 32 Ada turnovers, en route to a 79-16 thrashing of the Bulldogs.
With the win, Bluffton improves to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the NWC. Ada remains winless at 0-3, 0-1 in the NWC.
Most of Ada’s turnovers resulted in quick scores at the other end for Bluffton.
Bluffton had nine players crack the scoring column Thursday night. Laykin Garmatter led Bluffton and all scorers with 21 points, including three 3-pointers. Libby Shaadt, a 5-foot-11 post player, scored 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Alivia Koenig scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Averey Rumer added eight points and five steals for the Pirates.
“That’s one of our big parts (transition),” Bluffton coach Eric Garmatter said. “But we still turned it over. There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds tonight. But it’s a win – our first conference win. So, we’ll move on to Saturday. We’ve got Ottoville Saturday (at Ottoville). So, it’s going to be a little bit different.”
Bluffton turned the ball over 12 times Thursday night.
Kirsten Poling and Alexis Waugh each scored four points for Ada.
Right from the start, Bluffton pushed the tempo.
Bluffton opened with a flurry, going on a 15-0 run. The Pirates’ defensive pressure caused nine Ada turnovers in the first four minutes of the contest. By the end of the first quarter, Ada turned the ball over 13 times, while Bluffton stretched its lead to 24-2 by the first stop.
Bluffton extended its lead to 44-6 by halftime. By the break, Ada had turned the ball over 21 times, while shooting just 2 of 13 from the field. Bluffton, on the other hand, was 19 of 36 shooting from the floor in the first 16 minutes of action. Koenig and Schaadt each scored 10 points in the first half to lead the Pirates. Koenig nailed two 3-pointers in the first half, while Schaadt got it done inside the paint.
Bluffton’s lead ballooned to 60-10 by the end of the third quarter.
First-year Ada head coach Morgan (Dumbaugh) Bass is a former standout at both Ada and Ohio Northern University. Bass is the all-time program scoring leader at Ada.
Bass said her main goal this season is to see her young squad improve each time it steps onto the court.
“Our group is really, really young,” Bass said. “With no seniors and with just two juniors, we’re just young and very inexperienced. But we try to stay positive. This game, obviously, wasn’t a win-loss (situation). That’s not what we’re looking at, as far as positives. We kind of look at the little things during the game that we grew from.”
Sophomore Miranda Wills is the lone returning letter winner on the Ada roster. However, Wills is out of the lineup with a broken nose.
For the game, Bluffton shot 52 percent from the field. Ada countered with 21-percent shooting from the floor.
Bluffton dominated the boards, 39-17.
“Give her (Bass) a chance,” Garmatter said. “She’s just getting a chance to work with them for the first time. She’ll turn that program around. It won’t take her long. She knows what she’s doing. So, give her time.”
Garmatter said that in a lop-sided victory like Thursday’s, he has one primary goal.
“You just hope to stay healthy, to be honest,” he said with a smile.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.