Let’s face it. If you weren’t in the gym on Wednesday night to witness the 2A district game between Williamsburg and the Albia Blue Demons, you missed one of the most exciting moments ever as Albia overcame a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to score a 66-64 win over the Red Raiders. The ringing chant of “Let’s go Blue” and grade school kids running up and down the sideline trying to get a “Wave” started helped spur on the home team to what seemed to be a miracle finish.
The game started more like a whimper though. Joe Teno put Albia up 3-0 hitting a shot from outside the arc on the first possession, but that would be the last lead Albia would enjoy until 48 seconds left in the contest. Albia shot poorly in the first quarter while the Red Raiders were on fire hitting four three-point goals and using a full court pressure to get some easy scores and leading 20-8 with 2:07 left in the period. Albia stayed close as Brayden Messamaker hit a three point goal at the 1:40 mark and Teno hit his second three as the first quarter buzzer sounded to keep the margin to single digits 23-15.
The Blue Demon shooting woes continued in the second quarter as Albia managed only nine points while missing seven free throws during the period. The Williamsburg 2-3 zone limited any scores from inside the paint and no one seemed to be able to grace the net from outside the arc, though many were attempted. The Raiders were not as productive offensively as Albia turned up the heat in their half court defense but the Blue Demons faced a 31-16 deficit before Blake Chance made a steal and score play to make it 31-18 at the 4:08 mark. Chance scored on an offensive rebound and later on a feed to the block to make it 32-24 with two minutes to play in the half. Missed free throws, missed clean shots and a foul at the buzzer and two free throws for Williamsburg seemed to just further Albia’s frustration and increase the margin to 36-24 at the half.
“I don’t think we have ever won a game when we missed 19 free throws,” pointed out Coach Kevin Archer. “We had some foul trouble in the first half as well. Every time we seemed to have a chance to make a move either Williamsburg made a big play or we missed a great shot.”
In the second half Albia had another chance and his name was Blake Chance, who scored 25 points during the 16 minutes. Ten seconds into the third quarter Chance went to the line, made one missed one but Nate Wynn grabbed the rebound, got the ball to Chance who scored again to make it 36-27. At the 6:23 mark Nathan Crall scored on a fast break, but Williamsburg was able to maintain the margin with three-point shooting and free throws. At the five minute mark in the third quarter Albia still faced a 44-31 deficit. A slick move by Nate Wynn and and fast break score by Teno cut the lead to 45-35 and a steal and score play by Chance made it 45-37. The Raiders responded with six straight points in the final two minutes of the quarter to lead 51-37 going into the final eight minutes.
Williamsburg’s big man picked up his fourth foul on the first possession of the fourth quarter and was relegated to the bench. Chance took advantage immediately with a drive to the basket to score the first two of his 20 points in the period. At 6:40 Chance collected an offensive rebound and scored as well as making good on a free throw attempt. Albia went to a full court pressure and the Raiders turned the ball over twice in nine seconds. Albia took advantage and cut the lead to 54-45.
“We had Jackson DeMoss and Gage Wilson come off the bench and energize our defense,” said Coach Archer. “We thought we could pressure them and it paid off at the right time.” With Wynn and Crall on the bench in foul trouble Chance made a steal and scored at the five minute mark to cut the margin to 56-48. At 4:25 Albia doubled along the side line and Messamaker picked off a loose ball to score making it 56-50. The Raiders hit a free throw at the 4:21 mark. Albia missed two free throws on the next possession but DeMoss made a steal at the top of the key and was fouled as he rebounded a missed shot. He made one of two, but Chance sneaked in to grab the offensive rebound and he was fouled and made one of two.
In the final four minutes Williamsburg missed six free throws. At 3:15 Wynn made a move to score to cut the lead to 57-54. The Raiders scored inside and Albia put them on the line for two making it 61-54. “We had plenty of time to make up a seven point deficit,” said Coach Archer, “and our defense was really putting a lot of pressure on them.” Chance scored on a drive, a steal by Chance and a pass to Beau Leshen cut the margin to 61-58. “We considered turning off the press at that point but our guys were so determined that we just went with it.” Chance made a steal and scored at the 1:28 mark.
Williamsburg tried to stem the tide with a time out but the crowd was frantic and it seemed to energize Albia. Another steal at the one minute mark resulted in free throws at the other end for Chance and he made good on both. Albia had gained their first lead since the opening tip with 48 seconds left to play up 62-61. Williamsburg called another time out but to no avail as they turned the ball over and had to foul Chance who hit two from the line. The Raiders attempted a three-point goal with 25 seconds left the went short and Crall grabbed the rebound and was fouled. “Nathan looked confident when he went to the line,” said the coach. Crall calmly sank two free throws to secure the victory. Williamsburg hit a jump shot near the buzzer but with no time out they could only watch the last four seconds tic off the clock.
Chance led all scorers with 35 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, 10 of which were on the offensive end, had seven steals and four assists. Teno had nine points, Wynn seven, Messamaker six, Leshen four, and Crall four. Teno had two assists while Crall and Messamaker had one each.
Also grabbing rebounds for Albia were Leshen with six, Messamaker three, Wynn two, Crall two, DeMoss two, and Gage Wilson one. Leshen, Chance and DeMoss each had a blocked shot. Teno had two steals while Crall, DeMoss and Wilson each had one.
Albia played Pella Christian on Thursday in Eddyville. Full story will be in Thursday’s U-R. They improve their season record to 13-7.