ALMA – Van Buren owed Alma and the Pointers got it back on Tuesday.
Van Buren outlasted the Airedales, 62-60, avenging a home loss to Alma last season.
"They came over to our place last year and got us," Van Buren head coach Randy Loyd said. "We felt like we owed them one. What a great game to play. That’s why the Van Buren-Alma games are so good."
Both teams showed their resiliency with rallies, but Van Buren rallied last.
"It was a typical Van Buren-Alma battle," Alma head coach Stan Flenor said. "In preparing for the game, we knew they were a seasoned team."
Down 48-46 midway through the fourth quarter, Van Buren scored five straight points, which was a rare offensive run by either team in the game, and then held on.
"The way the games are being called this year, you can’t get into any kind of a rhythm, offensively or defensively." Loyd said. "I’m proud of the kids for coming back and sticking with it. It’s a good win."
Jason Harms hit two free throws to tie the game with 3:17 left and 6-foot-9 sophomore Mitchell Smith had an unconventional three-point play to put the Pointers up for good. He hit the front end of a free throw with 3:03 left, missed the second but grabbed the offensive rebound and scored almost uncontested for a 51-48 lead.
Braxton Anderson’s drive bucket had Alma within 58-57 with 42 seconds left, but Harms drove for a bucket. After Alma missed a driving attempt, Harms added two free throws with seven seconds left for a 62-57 advantage.
"We shoot free throws every day and we’ll continue to shoot them," Loyd said. "It’s going to come down to who ever can keep their best players in the game and not get in foul trouble.
Van Buren controlled the tempo in taking a 26-18 halftime lead and went up 31-20 with 6:27 left in the third quarter on Harms’ 3-pointer after Smith drove and dished.
Alma rallied during the final four minutes of the third quarter, using a 7-0 run to pull within three at 34-31 spurred by a 3-pointer by Jake Folkerts and a bucket and two free throws by Austin Lee.
"In the first half, we were kind of pecking and trying to find our way and seeing how they were playing us defensively," Flenor said. "In the second half, we kind of loosened the reins a little bit with our pressure and attacking."
Alma finally took its first lead since 3-2 on Braylon Parker’s only bucket of the game, which was a 3-pointer, with 4:20 left at 47-46. On the next trip down the floor, Parker added a free throw for a 48-47 lead before Van Buren rallied.
Harms led Van Buren with 23 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Smith had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Lee led Alma with 18 points. Anderson added 14 pionts with Mason Wight chipping in 10.
Alma 64, Van Buren 54 (Women’s)
Head coach Madelyn Flenor sure hopes her Airedalettes have some quarters like they had on Tuesday.
The Airedalettes scored 23 points in the second quarter and erased a 10-8 first-quarter deficit to take a 31-20 lead at the half then added 27 more points in the third quarter.
"We hit those two quarters hard," Alma head coach Madelyn Flenor said. "The other two we kind of ignored but we’re real pleased."
Alma scored only four field goals, including consecutive buckets by Lania Wright with a 3-pointer, but converted 14-of-17 free-throw opportunities in the second quarter. Robin Stewart scored a fast-break layup and added five free throws in the pivotal second quarter. Madison Newton added four free throws in the quarter. Alma scored on 12 of 17 trips down the floor and committed no turnovers.
Alma forced Van Buren into nine turnovers in the second quarter and scored the first six points of the quarter and later had a 10-0 run to take a 26-14 lead with 2:30 left before the half.
Van Buren managed just two field goals, including a 3-pointer by Halie Jennen, and five free throws in the quarter.
"We came to life in the second quarter," Flenor said. "Our press took its toll a little bit. It sure is a lot easier to score when you get a steal in the back court."
As good as the Airedalettes were in the second quarter, they were even better in the third quarter.
Alma canned 11 field goals with two 3-pointers by Cassie Cochran and another by Madison Newton. Lania Wright and Newton added three-point plays as the Airedalettes bumped their lead to 58-38 after three quarters.
"We got a few 3s to hit and that helped spread the difference," Flenor said. "We had a lot of people score tonight."
Stewart and Cierra Rainwater each converted steals into layups.
Wright led Alma with 16 points, Stewart added 13 and Newton chipped in 11 while yanking down eight rebounds.
VAN BUREN 62, ALMA 60
Van Buren 13 13 15 21 — 62
Alma 9 9 19 23 — 60
Van Buren (3-0): Harms 23, Smith 22, Eversole 8, Kursh 5, Wilson 2, Martin 2.
Alma (1-1): Lee 18, Anderson 14, Wight 11, Folkerts 6, Parker 4, Baker 4, Harris 3.
ALMA 64, VAN BUREN 54
Van Buren 10 10 18 16 — 54
Alma 8 23 27 6 — 64
Van Buren (2-1): Sheppard 16, Goodwin 9, Jennen 7, Santillana 7, Jones 6, McElwee 5, Glassco 2, Haley 2.
Alma (1-1): Wright 16, Stewart 13, Newton 11, Cochran 9, Ostrander 6, Rainwater 4, Dunbar 4, Dyer 1.