ELMA — Aberdeen needed a late-game stand at the free-throw line to hold off a rally against host Elma on Wednesday night.
A fourth-quarter run by the Eagles made it close in the last few minutes of the game, but the Bobcats hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to hold on for their first win of the season, 56-50, in a non-league boys basketballmatchup at Elma.
After trailing by double digits for most of the second half, the Eagles went on a 10-2 run in the fourth quarter. Elma junior guard Ryan Collin scored eight points during that stretch and punctuated the run with a 3-pointer that cut the Bobcats’ lead to 50-45 with less than three minutes left to play in the game.
Senior wing Zack Ball answered back for Aberdeen (1-3) by slicing to the basket for a layin, putting the Bobcats up, 52-45.
With just over one minute left to play, Chance Bremer nailed a trey for the Eagles that cut Aberdeen’s lead to 52-48 — the smallest deficit for Elma since early in the second quarter. Bremer provided a big spark for Elma off the bench. The junior forward scored team-high 18 points, 12 of those points came in the second half.
On the ensuing Bobcat possession, Ball grabbed an offensive rebound and drew a foul on the put-back attempt. The senior made both of his free throws, but Bremer answered back with a layup on Elma’s next possession at 54-50 with 35 seconds left to play. Ball grabbed eight boards in the game to go along with his team-high 18 points.
Aberdeen senior guard Charlie Dietrich drew a foul on the Bobcats’ next possession, and iced the game by making both of his free throws for the final margin at 56-50. The Bobcats had made just 2-of-12 attempts from the charity stripe before Ball and Dietrich made all four of their free throws that mattered the most.
“It was nice to see the kids have a successful game, and a solid defensive game,” Aberdeen head coach Leonard Barnes said. “Elma was obviously pretty fired up tonight, and they did a good job, but I thought our kids really competed hard, and hung in down the stretch.”
After turning the ball over 26 times in the first three quarters, Elma (0-3) did not turn it over once in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a testament to the kids,” Elma head coach Marvin Prince said. “They showed resilience. All we do is provide them with the information, and hopefully the skills to get the job done, but ultimately they are the ones who have to play. We picked up our defensive intensity, and hit a few buckets in the fourth quarter. When you hit buckets, the momentum can start to swing. It was just a great effort on the part of the kids.”
Aberdeen junior guard Veek Cheema hit three shots from beyond the 3-point arc and scored 13 points in the first quarter to help the Bobcats build their lead. Cheema finished with 17 points.
“It all starts with mental toughness and physical toughness,” Barnes added. “If you have those things, you should be able to battle through anything on the court, and he (Cheema) is obviously doing that for us. He is one of our kids that is showing growth and maturity. He has a lot of silent confidence about himself, and it’s pretty special.”
Aberdeen will make the short trip to Hoquiam Square Garden on Friday to take on the rival Grizzlies for the second time in eight days. Elma will open up Evergreen 1A League play by hosting the Forks Spartans on Friday.
Abe 20 13 14 9 — 56
Elma 12 10 13 15 — 50
Aberdeen (56) – Dietrich 8, Cheema 17, Fairchild, Phillips 2, Williamson, Schlesser 2, Edwards, Black 2, Nord 7, Ball 18, Taylor, Levao. FG – 23-60 (.383). FT – 5-15
Elma (50) – Collin 13, Farr 3, Naumen 5, Sayler, Stark 2, Horton 5, Bremer 18, Stevens 2, Wilson 2. FG – 17-42 (.405). FT – 9-13
JV – Aberdeen 78, Elma 16. Addam Follett 26 points, Cole Edwards 16 points, Chandler Craig 10 rebounds.
C Squad — Aberdeen 64, Elma 15. Austin Silva 10 points, eight steals.