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Albany struggles against Johnson Creek, falls 56-43
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Albanys Gavin Ruef drives to the lane against Johnson Creek Thursday.
ALBANY - Albany boys basketball coach Derik Doescher understands it will take more than a "just keep shooting" philosophy for his team to dig out of a shooting slump.

The Comets struggled Thursday, shooting 26.2 percent (16-for-61), and lost to Johnson Creek 56-43. Despite their shooting woes, the Comets only trailed 36-31 entering the fourth quarter.

"We have played emotionless basketball for three games," Doescher said. "I don't know what to do to bring it out of them. We played without intensity."

Doescher expects the shooting to improve with each practice and game.

"Anyone who has seen us play this year knows we have struggled shooting the basketball," Doescher said. "I think a big part of it is confidence. We could have the best shot or ugliest shot in the world and it doesn't matter if we are not confident and think when we shoot it that the basketball will go in. I think 80 percent of it is confidence and 20 percent of it is repetition."

Albany (0-3) started out the game with a bang as junior Gavin Ruef hit a jumper that gave the Comets a 5-0 lead. But Johnson Creek picked up some momentum when 6-foot, 5-inch sophomore Ken Rank scored 10 points off the bench to spark the Bluejays. The Bluejays were careless with the ball in the first half, piling up 13 of their 24 turnovers.

One of the areas the Comets can build on is the play of senior Josh Peters, who scored a team-high 10 points and had seven rebounds, including five offensive rebounds.

The Comets went on a 9-0 third quarter spurt. Peters scored down low off an inbounds play and was fouled. He converted the traditional three-point play at the foul line with 6:37 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 23. Albany senior Boomer Detra then hit a jumper and senior Josh Krueger scored on a layup with 5:20 left in the frame, giving the Comets a short lived 27-23 lead.

That was until Johnson Creek senior Colton Weller took over. Weller scored 10 consecutive points, including two 3-pointers, and knocked down a pull-up jumper off the drive that gave the Bluejays a 36-27 lead with 1:28 to go in the third. Weller finished with a game-high 18 points and Rank had 14 for the Bluejays.

"We just lost intensity," Peters said. "Once we got a lead, we let them back in it."

Peters didn't play basketball last year. He opted to weight train to get ready for the football season. With every game, he's aware that his basketball career is getting closer to the end.

"Every game is important to me. You have to go out there play hard and hold your head up. You know this is the last time you will play that team this season," Peters said.

Doescher praised Peters' play.

"He got a lot of loose balls and rebounds," Doescher said. "I thought he played very good."

Krueger and junior Cody Schultz each finished with seven points. Detra added six points and had four steals.

The Comets went to a press in the second half, but many defensive stops turned into miscues on the offensive end.

"We caused some havoc with our press," Doescher said. "Once we got the ball, we turned the ball over or missed a shot. We didn't convert very well."