FORT WAYNE— Free throws down the stretch made the difference for Canterbury in a home win against Adams Central Friday night, 58-53.
Although the non-conference game is usually a good one between the Cavaliers and the Jets, the contest Friday held more meaning as Canterbury has joined the ranks of class 2A and could be a potential sectional opponent for the Starfires and Central later.
A 13-4 first quarter made it seem as though the game would be a rout in favor of the Cavs as the Jets opened the game missing their first eight shots before Hayden Black connected on a lay-up that made it 10-3. Central would finish the quarter 1-11 from the field and Jon Pedro's triple at the buzzer made it an 11-point Canterbury advantage.
"I didn't think we played all that bad in the first quarter," noted AC coach Aaron McClure. "We held a good team to just 13 points but we just couldn't find the basket at times."
Central picked up the pressure in the second quarter but not before freshman Jalen Paul drained a three and 6'8" junior Andrew Kus put in an offensive rebound to make it 18-4.
From that point on, however, the Cavaliers would score just two points before the half as the Jets would go on an 18-2 run to lead at the break 22-20.
Blade Kable's first triple of three in the frame started off the rally that featured another three-pointer from Alex Byerly and four assists from Black who ended with eight total in the game.
The teams would pace back and forth in the third quarter but Kus put together 13 points in those eight minutes dominating the post answering every Jets' basket with two points on the other end. The center would end with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds.
"We probably should have gone to zone a little quicker than we did," admitted McClure. "Even moving Baumer onto Kus sooner could have helped. I have to take some of the blame for that."
In that third frame, Kable would nab his fourth triple and a pair of free throws to give AC their largest lead of the game at 31-26 but Kus' basket and foul brought the game back to within one point at 31-30 and another two points fpr the center gave them the lead for good.
Despite never relinquishing the lead after that basket, the Cavaliers also never led by more than seven points the rest of the game, which was the lead in the closing seconds of the third after two Jet turnovers led to easy scores.
Nick Baumer's three from the corner as time expired trimmed the lead to 40-36 after three quarters.
"Nick's shot to bring it to four points was a huge moment in the game," praised McClure. "I thought they really had the momentum going but the shot sort of negated that run to keep it close."
Free throws loomed large in the fourth as the Cavs put Central in the bonus in the first 15 seconds of the period. Black's three-pointer cut the lead in half making it 42-39 and after baskets from Kus and Nate White, the Jets sandwiched in four straight trips to the line resulting in a 6-7 showing and a 46-45 lead for Canterbury.
With under a minute to play and down four points, Baumer found himself wide open under the basket as his defender lost his footing and the Jets clawed to within two points at 52-50. White, playing for Kus who was forced out by blood on his jersey, made good use of his time by scoring a field goal at the rim and free throws the next time down pushing the lead back to four points.
Kable's three missed on the other end and White made another pair of free throws for the six-point advantage. Black drove to the basket on the next Jets' possession earning the lay-in plus the foul shot to cut the lead to three points at 56-53.