On Tuesday night it seemed to take more time to cut down the nets in celebration of winning an SCC boys’ basketball championship than it did to decide the game itself as Albia defeated Knoxville 70-32 to claim sole ownership of the SCC crown.
“Winning a championship is a great accomplishment whether it is shared like we did in 2009 and 2006, or outright like tonight,” said Coach Kevin Archer. “I am so happy for our guys because they are not only a good and accomplished basketball team but they are great guys as well.”
The victory was pretty much assured half way through the second quarter. In the opening minutes of the game it looked like it would be a possession by possession game as it was in Knoxville last Thursday. Blake Chance started the scoring with a drive to the basket and Knoxville’s Hixon countered with a drive and score.
Brayden Messamaker scored on a drive, Nate Wynn scored on a back door cut but Knoxville countered with a short jump shot to make it 6-4. Momentum began to build as Messamaker hit a deep three point goal at the 4:16 mark and that propelled the Blue Demons to a 14-4 run highlighted by consecutive scores from the block by Jackson Pence and two free throws with three ticks left on the clock by Jackson DeMoss giving Albia a 20-8 lead.
“We have had a few games where we have gotten off to a great lead early and the other team kind of worked their way back,” noted Coach Archer. “We wanted to prevent that.”
Albia employed a stifling zone defense that eliminated scores in the paint and held the Panthers to only four points in the second period. The Blue Demon offense was living in the painted area benefiting from slick passing by both Blake Chance and Messamaker until with 20 seconds left in the half Messamaker made good on a field goal and one to make it 35-12 at the half.
The Blue Demons came out of the locker room determined to have no let down and executed a 6-2 run to start the second half as Blake Chance led the way with a drive followed by Wynn scoring on an out of bounds play and Blake Stewart dropping in two free throws.
A three-point goal by Messamaker at the five minute mark of the third quarter made it 46-19. Though Knoxville was able to hit two from outside the arc when DeMoss and Trey Griffin combined for a steal and score play to make it 58-24 with 1:27 on the clock the game was well in hand. Drew Chance hit two free throws with 18 seconds on the clock to give Albia a 60-26 lead going into the final eight minutes with a running clock.
There was still excitement to be had as the student body cheered on the Blue Demons in the fourth quarter especially when DeMoss hit a three-point goal and Travis Sheffield put up two field goals and a three as well.
“Knoxville may have been short handed due to illness,” said Coach Archer, “but we had defeated them on their home court just last Thursday. This was icing on the cake.”
Blake Chance led the team in scoring with 13 points, Messamaker had 11, Wynn 10, Pence eight, Drew Chance eight, DeMoss seven, Stewart four, Griffin two and Sheffield seven.
Then the ceremonial cutting of the net began, with the lone senior on the team, Joe Teno struggling with what seemed to be a dull scissors, only to have his Uncle Mark Teno come to the rescue with a sharper tool. “The plan was to have all the guys take a turn at cutting the net but they just cheered Joe on to bring the whole net down,” said Coach Archer. “That shows you how much respect Joe has earned and what kind of character our team has.”
The Blue Demons finish the SCC schedule with a 11-1 record and the season tally at this point is 14-2. They will host Ankeny Christian on Monday and Fort Madison on Thursday and wait for post season assignments.