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Comets soar past Vikings
Albanys Tyler Conley tries a spin move against Pecatonica defender Devin Jeglum during Thursdays game.
ALBANY - Just about any defense can be found in Albany boys basketball coach Derik Doescher's coaching bag.

Doescher drew up a unique 2-2-1 zone with senior Bryce Hulbert down low, which bottled up Pecatonica and sparked the Comets to a 40-32 win over the Vikings Thursday night.

"We tried to mix it up to keep Pec on their toes," Doescher said. "Kevin (Parman) always does a good job when he can get his team settled in and they run their offense. We knew to have a chance, we had to keep them on their toes so they couldn't get settled in."

Pecatonica (9-9, 4-3 Six Rivers East) struggled, shooting 31 percent (12-for-38), and sputtered down the stretch with costly turnovers.

Albany (7-11, 4-4) had a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Albany junior Josh Krueger, who scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half, drained a jumper to open the fourth quarter to give the Comets a 29-26 lead. Krueger came up with a steal and scored on a layup, on which he was fouled with 3:31 left. He converted the conventional three-point play to give the Comets a 33-28 lead.

"Defensively, we shut them down," Krueger said. "We came out and closed all the gaps off and got out there so they couldn't shoot."

After the Comets were called for a charge, Pecatonica senior Jeremy Meudt drove to the basket and banked in a jumper with 1:20 to go to slice the Comets' lead to 34-32.

"Just bad decisions," Pecatonica coach Kevin Parman said. "They deserved it and we didn't. They took advantage of our mistakes and won."

The Comets made just 7 of 13 free throws over the last 3:42, but received a big boost when senior Casey Krupke scored on a layup with 1:12 left to give the Comets a four-point lead.

"I was just trying to motivate my teammates," Krueger said of the fourth-quarter free throw shooting. "I told them to follow through and make it."

Early on, the Vikings jumped out to a 7-2 first-quarter lead sparked by senior Devin Jeglum's steal and layup. The Comets started the game in a man-to-man defense, but switched to a 2-2-1 zone and at times played a 1-3-1 zone.

"The zone actually had something to do with it," Parman said of the Vikings' shooting woes. "We didn't take any good shots and looked to force everything."

The Comets answered when Hulbert, who had 10 points and 13 rebounds, scored down low and senior T.J. Bump drilled a 3-pointer with 7:07 left in the second quarter to tie the game at 11. Pecatonica senior Jason Meudt moments later buried a 3-pointer and helped the Vikings take a 17-16 halftime lead.

The Vikings committed nine of their 12 turnovers in the second half and struggled shooting.

Jeremy Meudt scored eight points to lead the Vikings and Jeglum added seven.

The Comets have won four of their last five games.

Albany will turn its attention to conference leader Monticello, Tuesday.

Doescher said he likes the way all five players on the court were crashing for rebounds.

"We had five hungry guys who wanted the loose balls," Doescher said. "Good things happen when you scramble and are hustling."