CENTERVILLE — The Albia boys basketball team had their sights set on completing a perfect run through South Central Conference play.
The Centerviile Big Reds had other ideas, using a barrage of 3-pointers in the first half, building a 32-24 halftime lead over the Blue Demons.
"It was the Knoxville game all over again," assessed Centerville head coach Tom Hill following the game. "We need to be consistent and play both halves."
After leading throughout the entire first half, Centerville could not hold the lead in the second half. Albia outscored the Big Reds 17-3 to finish the third quarter on the way to a 64-50 win making the Blue Demons the second team in three years to complete a perfect 12-0 run through SCC lay.
Centerville led the entire first half on the backs of eight 3-pointers, opening the game on a 3-pointer by Brady Kauzlarich. Merrick Mathews followed that with two more 3-pointer, the second coming with four minutes left in the first quarter.
Brayden Messamaker added a trey for Albia with just under two minutes left. The Blue Demons trailed the Big Reds 13-11 as they entered the second quarter of play.
The Big Reds challenged the Blue Demons man-to-man defense in the second quarter, hitting on five 3-pointers, including three by Mason Baughman. Trailing 22-15, Drew Chance drove the Centerville basket for a lay-up, was fouled and hit the free throw to pull the Blue Demons back within five points with 5:40 remaining in the half.
Following a jumper by Chance at the 4:50 mark, Centerville's Merrick Mathews banked a long 3-pointer from well above the top of the key. With 2:06 left in the half, Blake Chance hit both ends of a one and one free throw to cut the Centerville lead to four points.
Mathews would put the Big Red on the board twice more before the conclusion of the half on a put back and a turn around jumper. Centerville would see a 36-29 lead evaporate as Albia scored the next 10 consecutive points.
During the final five minutes of play, Albia (17-2, 12-0 SCC) would outscore Centerville 17-3 to close out the quarter with Albia leading 46-39.
"We were impatient offensively," noted Hill.
The Big Reds (4-12, 3-8 SCC) would hit thee more 3-pointers in the final frame. Too little, too late would be the mantra of the final period. During the final 1:10 to play, Albia would connect on nine of 10 free throw attempts to seal a 64-50 conference win.
Albia was led by Blake Chance with 18 points and six rebounds. Drew Chance added 16 points and five rebounds. Trey Griffin was also in double figures for the Blue Demons with 12 points.
Centerville's Merrick Mathews knocked down 18 points for the home team, with Brody Tuttle scoring 15 and Brady Kauzlarich adding 12 for the Big Red in the loss.
Centerville is next schedule to travel to Newton on Monday while Albia is slated to host either Davis County or Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont in the Class 2A district semifinals on Thursday, Feb. 18.
Teams 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Albia 11 13 22 18 64
Centerville 13 19 7 11 50