BLUFFTON—It was a 42-42 tie with 1:35 left in the ball game when Chandler Prible stole a pass at mid-court and drove in for a lay-up that put Bluffton up for good on the Adams Central Flying Jets Friday night at the Tigers' Den.
Both teams entered the contest 3-0 in the ACAC but Bluffton was the team hoisting up the hardware after knocking off Woodlan in the title game at the Coliseum last week for the conference crown.
"Obviously they're good, winning the ACAC tournament last week. They have four or five quality guys who can really play," praised AC coach Aaron McClure after the game.
Bluffton emerged after a quality basketball game victorious with a 50-45 decision over the Jets, thanks in large part to Prible, one of those quality guys.
The senior's basket put the Tigers up by a bucket late in a game where scoring came at a premium for both squads playing against constricting zone defenses.
On the other end of the court, Adams Central missed the front end of a one-and-one missing an opportunity to tie the game. Prible was fouled and sank a pair of freebies on the other end to extend the lead to four points.
After Hayden Black went one of two trimming the lead to just three, the Tigers missed on the other end and Dalton Combs was fouled. The senior put in two more free throws for the Jets to make it 46-45 with 30 seconds to play.
AC fouled immediately but it was Matthew Sturgeon's turn to sink a pair bringing the lead back to three.
A rare breakdown on defense for Bluffton resulted in a wide-open look for Isaac Luginbill, the Jets' sharp-shooter from outside, but the attempt rimmed out and the Tigers secured the rebound. Jackson Lambert's two free throws on the other end sealed the win for the home team.
"It was a good game the whole way," noted coach McClure. "It went back and forth in the first half and then the second half was a game of runs for both teams. They made their free throws down the stretch."
The Tigers went 14-16 in the game from the free throw line, including a perfect 9-9 in the fourth quarter. AC finished an uncharacteristic 9-16 from the stripe going 4-7 in the last frame.
The free throw shooting was not lost on the AC coach.
"We were in control there tied at 42-42 in the bonus with the ball but Pribble made a nice steal and a basket. On the other end we missed our free throws and they didn't. It was flat out the difference in the ball game."
The Jets had plenty of chances to seal the game late but the orange would not fall for AC who have struggled from the field as of late.