In a game full of momentum-swinging baskets, it was a mere free throw that sealed the fate of the Pella Christian boys’ season, as the Eagles fell to Albia last night 42-41.
Albia led 9-8 through the first eight minutes of play, and had extended that lead by halftime to 24-18; in a first half that included three ties and eight lead changes.
The Eagles appeared to have made some good adjustments in the locker room, though, as they opened up the third quarter on a 9-0 run to take a 27-24 halfway through the period. However, in what would become a theme for the night, Albia battled their way back with deadly three-point shooting, as the Blue Demons scored all nine of their third quarter points from beyond the arc and were up 33-31 going into the final period.
The energy from Albia’s fans was nearly at a full boil when the Blue Demons took a 39-36 lead on yet another three-pointer, but Pella Christian’s Curtis Rozenboom answered at the other end with his first three-point basket of the season to tie the game at 39-39 with 3:19 remaining in the game.
Pella Christian would strike again less than a minute later to go up 41-39, but Albia answered with a lay-up of their own to knot the game up again at 41-41. Eagles’ Head Coach Larry Hessing called a time-out with just over a minute remaining in regulation, but a turnover gave Albia the basketball back with under a minute to play.
The Blue Demons elected to run the clock down to ten seconds before striking on offense, ending up with a pass down low to Jordan Simpson, who was fouled on his shot attempt. Out of the only two free throws attempted by Albia in the entire game, Simpson missed the first, but made the second to put the Blue Demons up 42-41.
Pella Christian couldn’t successfully execute and in-bounds pass play to half court with just over two seconds to play, as they turned the ball over for the seventh and final time. Albia dribbled out the final eight-tenths of a second to close out the victory.
“We just couldn’t ever quite seem to get over the hump,” said Pella Christian Head Coach Larry Hessing after the game. “Whether it was poor three-point shooting, [or] basketballs going through the hands of post players…and actually in that last possession where we’re working for the final shot – instead of Albia getting to take the final shot – we just didn’t execute everything that we talked about in our timeout, and that was certainly disappointing.”
Kyle Nikkel led the Eagles with 18 points and 5 rebounds, while Chase Carlson chipped in nine points. Albia was led by a 13-point, 5 rebound performance from Zach Hutt, while Kevin Wynn added 12 points for the Blue Demons. The Pella Christian boys finish the 2009-10 season with an overall record of 15-7. Albia improves to 17-5 and will now face Davis County on Tuesday night at Pella High School.