EDDYVILLE — Records. Titles. Milestones.
For Kevin Archer, now in his 19th season at the helm of the Albia boys basketball team, those are all great. Right now, Archer is keeping his goals simple as the Blue Demons navigate the 2020-21 season.
"I'm almost to the point where I want to win the next day," Archer said. "Especially with COVID and especially with everything that's going on, you just try to win the next day. Sometimes, that's really difficult, but I think our guys have done a nice job of it."
Albia's quest for a second straight outright South Central Conference championship continued on Tuesday with a 75-46 win at Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont. Brayden Messamaker paced an incredible shooting performance by the Blue Demons with a game-high 23 points, including a perfect 7-7 in 3-point shooting for the senior guard.
"If one guy is feeling it, we just keep feeding him the basketball," Messamaker said. "We have a lot of weapons. We love to share the ball. I just felt like my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball. The kept finding me and I kept feeling it."
Messamaker's first 3-pointer snapped the only tie of the night, putting Albia up 9-6 midway through the first quarter. Albia shot 8-10 from 3-point range in the first half and finished hitting 13-19 from beyond the arc in the game.
"Sometimes, shooting is contagious. If you see Brayden go out and start shooting well, it gives you confidence as his teammate," Archer said. "Brayden's hot start was pretty contagious."
The Blue Demons looked every bit like the best team in the South Central Conference, even extending a first half lead with several starters sitting on the bench in the second quarter. Jackson DeMoss closed out a 17-6 run to close the half by sinking a 3-pointer from the corner off a feed from Liam Winfield, sending the Blue Demons into the locker room with a 35-23 lead.
"We go nine deep and every single one of those guys was great," Archer said. "I think we were up seven when we started getting into foul trouble. Those are great kids that come to practice every day ready to work hard. They're great teammates and push one another. To see those guys get minutes, step up and make big plays was awesome."
EBF (3-4, 3-3 SCC) didn't go away, getting back within 43-37 after Carson Wade's 3-point shot from the top of the key late in the third quarter. Albia responded by scoring the final nine points of the period before outscoring EBF in the fourth, 26-7, to run away with a second win this season over the Rockets.
"Albia shot the ball extremely well. Some of that is bad defense and us not being in position to challenge the shots, but sometimes we guarded them well and they still knocked them down," EBF head coach Travis Stout said. "When they shoot the ball like that, they're darn hard to beat."
Ethan Davis led EBF with a double-double, scoring 12 points while hauling in 10 rebounds. The Rockets will look to bounce back on Friday night in Bloomfield against Davis County while Albia (7-1, 4-0 SCC) continues pursuit of a second straight conference title at Chariton.
"We've just got to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward," Archer said.