Saving their best until last, Aberdeen’s boys were rewarded with their first league win.
Zack Ball scored 22 points and Charlie Dietrich tallied five key points in the final 62 seconds as the Bobcats rallied for a 57-49 victory over Black Hills in an Evergreen 2A Conference boys basketball game Tuesday night at Sam Benn Gym.
Ball hit 9-of-14 field-goal attempts and 3-of-4 free throws as the Bobcats improved to 1-6 in league and 4-10 overall.
There were, however, no shortage of contributors to this triumph.
Junior guard Veek Cheema had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds while also handing out three assists. Senior post Collin Nord scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter.
Aberdeen also received lifts from varsity-JV swingmen Addam Follett and Cole Edwards, each of whom had played three quarters in the junior varsity prelim before filling out their nights with one period of varsity action. Follett had a three-point play in the third quarter, while Edwards spent most of the game’s final five minutes on the floor.
Jacob Burgess, a 6-foot-5 senior with a good perimeter shooting touch, paced Black Hills (2-5, 4-11) with 22 points.
The Bobcats recovered from a slow start to hit 42 percent from the field and 9-of-11 free throws.
“We hit our free throws tonight, that was the difference,” AHS coach Leonard Barnes said.
Actually, Barnes saw several differences. The Cats enjoyed a significant rebounding advantage and committed only 10 turnovers.
”I think the big key was we took care of the ball better,” the Bobcat coach observed, “and we did a better job of getting the ball inside.”
After faltering in the fourth quarter in Thursday’s 61-55 loss to Capital, the Cats reversed the procedure last night.
Missing seven of their first eight shots and committing four turnovers in the opening four minutes, the Bobcats were fortunate to stay within striking distance. Black Hills led 27-24 at the half.
With Ball firing in 10 points in the third quarter, Aberdeen took a 39-37 edge into the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter was a see-saw affair.
Burgess put down a three-ball and followed with a deuce from middle range to put the Wolves on top, 46-43, with about five minutes remaining.
Nord took an entry pass from Ball to tie it at 47 with 2:59 remaining. Then Cheema drove into the lane and dished to Nord for a layin that gave Aberdeen a permanent lead at the 2:07 mark.
Taking an inbounds pass on a set play following an AHS timeout, Dietrich buried a three to extend the lead to 52-47 with 1:09 left.
Dietrich and Cheema combined to hit five of six foul shots in the final 25 seconds to keep the Bobcats safe.
Aberdeen wound up shooting 57 percent from the field in the second half.
Barnes was pleased with his team’s rebounding in general and that of the guards in particular. Deon Schlesser supplemented Cheema’s total with eight boards of his own.
The Bobcats draw a league bye Friday and will host Elma in a non-leaguer scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.
BH 12 15 10 12 — 49 Aber 10 14 15 18 — 57
Black Hills (49) — Infanse 8, Newell 2, Devoe 8, Herd 4, Burgess 22, Underhill 2, Neal 3. FG — 19-47 (.404). FT — 6-11.
Aberdeen (57) — Dietrich 8, Cheema 14, Schlesser 2, Nord 8, Ball 22, Fairchild, Williamson, Taylor, Follett 3, Edwards. FG — 21-50 (.420). FT —9-11.
JV — Aberdeen 65, Black Hills 30. Chandler Craig 14 points, Addam Follett 10 for Aberdeen.
C Squad — Aberdeen 43, Black Hills 40. Jashan Jandu 16 points for Aberdeen.