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Hulbert's big night helps Albany keep Orioles winless
Albanys Bryce Hulbert drives to the basket against Argyle defender Nate Thomas in Thursdays game.
ARGYLE - Albany senior Bryce Hulbert couldn't wait to get back on the court after missing a game against Monticello due to illness earlier this week.

Hulbert scored a game-high 24 points and had 12 rebounds in helping the Comets hang on to a 62-54 win over Argyle Thursday night.

Hulbert showed no effects from a one-game layoff. He scored 14 of his 24 points in the second half, including eight in a critical stretch in the fourth quarter with Argyle junior Nate Thomas stuck to the bench with four fouls.

"That is when we had to get the ball down low and I had to attack the basket," Hulbert said. "I felt like I needed to demand the ball. I thought we could hurt them and we really did."

Hulbert wasn't sure if he would be 100 percent before the game.

"In practice, I was slow," he said. "I was just trying to get out there with our whole team and make sure our defense was ready from the get-go."

Argyle (0-11, 0-6 Six Rivers East) entered the fourth quarter trailing 49-45. Despite five fourth-quarter turnovers and Thomas' foul trouble, the Orioles had chances to win the game. Argyle junior Ryan Geissbuhler drilled a 3-pointer with 7 minutes, 12 seconds to go to cut the Comets' lead to 51-48. Albany (4-9, 2-3) answered when Hulbert scored down low and was fouled. Hulbert converted the conventional three-point play to give the Comets a 55-48 lead with 4:23 left. Albany junior Boomer Detra, who scored 13 points, hit a clutch jumper to give the Comets a 59-53 lead with 2:03 left.

Thomas scored 17 points and senior Kyle Geissbuhler scored 15 for the Orioles.

"He (Hulbert) did what he is supposed to do," Albany coach Derik Doescher said. "In the fourth quarter, he took it upon himself to take it to the basket at Thomas."

Argyle lost its 11th straight game, but the Orioles have lost close games to Pecatonica and Albany.

"I just told them we have to stay together and stick to the game plan," Argyle coach Kurt Ritschard said. "We got down by six and we thought we had to start shooting from the outside instead of working the ball inside."

Ritschard was excited by Kyle Geissbuhler's play.

"I thought he played outstanding," he said. "Kids are buying into the system. With his leadership, it really helps us out as coaches."

Albany shot just 5 of 12 from the free throw line down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

"As a team, we know we need to shoot free throws better," Doescher said. "For some of the kids it's more about confidence. We will work on it."

Early on, the game had the makings of a track meet. Argyle's Kyle Geissbuhler scored the Orioles' first seven points including draining a 3-pointer to tie the game at 7 with 5:51 left in the first quarter. The Comets went on a 9-2 run from there sparked by senior T.J. Bump's jumper and junior Trent Kuebli's layup on the break.

Albany junior Josh Krueger, who scored 10 points, hit a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter to give the Comets a 25-17 lead. The Orioles went on a 9-1 spurt to whittle the lead down. Kyle Geissbuhler drilled a clutch 3-pointer and a pair of Thomas free throws sliced the Comets' lead to 27-26. Krueger answered by hitting a 3-pointer. Thomas scored down low to trim the Comets' lead to 30-28 at halftime. Albany played various defenses including 2-3, 1-3-1 zones as well as man-to-man defenses to make it tough on Thomas down low.

"Once he gets the ball in the post, he's tough," Doescher said.

The Orioles took a short-lived lead when Thomas scored down low and was fouled. He converted the three-point play to give the Orioles a 33-32 lead with 6:30 left in the third quarter. Argyle led by as many as two points. The Comets went on an 8-0 third-quarter run highlighted by Detra's two 3-pointers. Hulbert scored down low to give the Comets a 43-37 lead with 3:21 left in the period.

"I'm proud of the effort," Doescher said. "We did what we needed to do. We knew coming in here it was going to be a tough ballgame. Any road win in the Six Rivers East is a good win. I'm happy to get out of here with a win."