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Adams, Warriors withstand late comeback by Comets
Black Hawks T.J. Adams looks to pass the ball around Albany defender Tyler Conley in the fourth quarter of Thursdays game. Adams had 15 points and Black Hawk won, 52-49.
SOUTH WAYNE - With the game on the line, Black Hawk senior T.J. Adams remained confident when the fourth quarter became frantic and turned into a parade to the free throw line.

Adams scored a game-high 15 points and Black Hawk withstood a late comeback from Albany to hang on for a 52-49 win Thursday night.

Black Hawk (7-12, 3-6) made 15 of 18 free throws over the final 2 minutes, 33 seconds to seal the victory.

"We knew we were a good free throw shooting team," Adams said. "I knew I couldn't let my team down by missing free throws."

Black Hawk junior Jake Meier drilled a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter and senior Cody Foster scored on a layup after a Comets' turnover to give the Warriors a 32-22 lead. Adams drove in and made a shot he was fouled with 5 minutes left. He converted the three-point play to give the Warriors a 35-23 lead.

Albany (7-13, 4-6 Six Rivers East) went to a fullcourt press and stormed back from a 12-point deficit. Albany junior Josh Krueger buried a 3-pointer to cut the Warriors' lead to 35-26. Albany sophomore Ty Mauerman hit a clutch 3-pointer with 42 seconds left to cut the Warriors' lead to 48-41. Then, Krueger came up with a steal and scored on a layup to slice the Warriors' lead to 48-43. Albany senior Tyler Conley drained a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to cut the Warriors' lead to 49-46, but that's as close as the Comets would get.

"You have to give Albany credit," Adams said. "They were making shot after shot. They put that fullcourt press on and we were a little shaky."

Black Hawk coach Kyle Bille was excited to see the clutch free throw shooting down the stretch.

"It makes a huge difference," Bille said of the Warriors' free throw shooting. "We work on free throws every day in practice and it paid off. Everyone stepped up to the line and made their shots."

Albany couldn't overcome a cold shooting performance. The Comets shot 31.9 percent from the field (15 of 47) and 13 of 27 from the free throw line.

"They were the hungrier team tonight from the tip," Albany coach Derik Doescher said. "The last three or four minutes it may have looked like we were in the game and hitting shots. It's the other 29 minutes you have to account for. You can't take anything away from Black Hawk. They did what they needed to do."

Albany's shooting woes from the foul line may have snowballed.

"We haven't shot free throws well all season," Doescher said. "It's not much of a secret in our locker room. When you get fouled you have to go to the line thinking you will score two points and not hoping or wanting. It just seems like we have a mental hurdle. It expands into our shooting from the perimeter. We didn't have enough shooting in the first 29 minutes to make a difference."

The Warriors closed the first quarter with a 9-0 spurt highlighted by Adams' 3-pointer and Foster's steal and layup. Black Hawk senior James Rufenacht grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a putback to give the Warriors a 15-6 lead entering the second quarter.

Foster scored 11 points and Michael Wolff and Meier added eight each.

Midway through the second quarter the Warriors went to a press that featured halfcourt traps to slow down the Comets. Albany senior Bryce Hulbert had a double-double (11 points and 14 rebounds), but he shot 2-for-7 with his first field goal not coming until the 5:17 mark of the third quarter.

Conley scored 14 points and Krueger added eight for the Comets.

The Warriors overcame a 7-for-22 shooting performance in the first half. Black Hawk also overcame some costly turnovers. The Warriors had 11 of their 15 turnovers in the second half.

"We just wanted to switch things up so they couldn't get into a comfort zone," Bille said of going to the press. "Our focus was Bryce. He's a load down there. The team did a good job as a whole to stop him and closed out on their shooters."