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Comets hold off Vikings behind Bauman's hot hand
Times photo: Adam Krebs Pecatonicas Alexandra Ihm gets knocked to the ground by Albanys Ingrid Kallgren on a loose ball in the first half of Fridays game.
ALBANY - Comets senior Rosy Bauman picked up the confidence she has been looking for all season in the first half of Friday's 70-55 win over Pecatonica. Bauman hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 of her 15 points in the first two quarters to give Albany the outside spark the team was looking for.

"I don't really shoot much in games, but I did tonight," Bauman said. "I felt really good after that first one (went in). Then I kept shooting because coach kept telling me to shoot more. It's a big confidence-builder because now I will be more confident to shoot in other games."

Albany head coach Bryce Pickett said with Bauman picking up her game, it freed up the inside game for the Comets, which led to 12 points from Sydney Bump and 11 from Hillary Best. Courtney Pfeuti led the Comets with 17 points.

"I thought Rosy Bauman did a fantastic job. She's playing in a role that she's not typically used to and I thought she did a fantastic job," Pickett said. "I think when you have someone play a dominant game, like I thought Rosy had, it makes it a little easier for everyone. That makes it easier for Sydney and Hillary and everyone else to take care of their business. We had several girls step up their game."

Sophomore Kirstie Kauk added all seven of her points in the first quarter as well, helping the Comets hold onto an 18-16 lead after eight minutes of play. By halftime, Albany managed to hold a 40-27 advantage.

"Pec did a nice job. We'd hold a lead and they'd kind of push back into it (the game)," Pickett said. "I think our girls have learned over the course of the season that when teams push us we need to push ourselves harder. And I think we did a nice job of that."

Pecatonica never really let the game get completely out of hand and kept up the pressure on both ends of the court.

"We really played. We were playing at 120-percent the whole time we were playing so hard," Vikings head coach Tom Wilkins said. "I'm very proud. But we made a few mistakes and they (Albany) capitalized on them."

Pecatonica's aggressive style led to foul trouble, however. The Vikings committed 21 fouls in the game and had two players foul out. Sophomore Emma Marion left the game with 4:51 left in the fourth, joining Michelle Francois, who fouled out with 3:07 left in the third, on the bench.

"We fouled a little too much again. It's kind of been our thing all year," Wilkins said. "We just can't quite learn to keep our hands off. We'll keep working at it."

Despite the numerous whistles, Pecatonica continued playing hard throughout the game, scoring 14 points in each of the final two quarters. Senior Ellie Gifford scored a game-high 17 points, sophomore Lizzy Britt had 15 and senior Alisha Esselstein had 14.

"We kept going at it, but they (Albany) always had an answer," Wilkins said. "I told the kids that teams that work as hard as we do, good things are going to happen."

Albany, meanwhile, struggled hitting its free throws down the stretch. The Comets were just 4 of 9 from the stripe in the fourth and 7 of 14 in the second half.

"We work on free throws every night (in practice), but that's something we have to be more consistent with," said Pickett, whose team shot just 14 of 29 in the game from the line. "We talk about wanting to be at the top of the conference with Black Hawk and Barneveld, free throws are going to be important. Boxing out's going to be important; we need to work on crashing the boards a little better."

Pecatonica (1-8, 1-2 Six Rivers East) will host Darlington (7-2, 4-0 SWAL) on Monday. Albany (7-3, 2-1 Six Rivers East) now has until Thursday to prepare for Barneveld (5-3, 1-1), routinely one of the top teams in the conference.