Albany Patroons win Eastern Conference title
albany patroons win eastern conference title

Albany Patroons win Eastern Conference title

ALBANY – The Albany Patroons are still undefeated at Washington Avenue Armory. They’re also The Basketball League’s Eastern Conference champions.

The Patroons had their closest call at home of the season, falling behind the Huntsville Hurricanes by 16 points early in the fourth quarter. But they rallied for a 110-108 victory in Game 2 of the conference finals on Friday night before a passionate crowd of 1,562 at the Armory.

Albany swept the best-of-3 series and moves on to play the Midwest champion (either Kokomo, Ind. or Toledo) in the best-of-3 regional finals.

“I’m really proud of the guys that played the majority of the minutes late in the fourth quarter,” Patroons head coach Will Brown said. “I thought they played with a sense of urgency and played hard. But I honestly feel this was a crowd/community win. I’ve said this all along, the Armory is an electric venue. When you get people in here, it’s really loud. It’s a good place to play. If the place is half-full, it feels like there’s 7-8,000 people in here. You can only imagine what it’s like when it’s full. We’re thankful the crowd didn’t leave at halftime or at any point in the third quarter and they stuck with us.”

The Patroons improved to 16-0 at home this season.

The Hurricanes looked like they might hand Albany its first blemish at the Armory when Huntsville’s Dallas Jones (27 points) made a foul shot for a 92-76 lead with 11:08 to play.

“It’s been a weakness of ours all season long,” Brown said. “We played them (Thursday) night (a 123-104 Albany victory in Game 1). Our guys know they played poorly in the first half. We were up 25 in the fourth quarter (Thursday) night. I think they felt, ‘Hey, all we’ve got to do is play better in the first half and this series will be over and over quickly.’ You have to give Huntsville an awful lot of credit because they played like a desperate team. A desperate team is a dangerous team. They punched us in the mouth and they kicked us in the rear end and they did it for about 40 minutes.”

But the Patroons roared back by turning up the trapping pressure and getting a big second-half effort by guard Kam Williams, who scored all of his 16 points after halftime. 

“We needed a boost,” Brown said. “He’s a shot maker. It was going to be him or J.C. Show. I thought this team was a better matchup for Kam athletically, especially, and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”

After Albany’s AJ Mosby (23 points) tied the score at 99-99 by making a 3-pointer with 2:50 remaining, Williams was fouled attempting a 3-pointer. The former Ohio State guard made all three foul shots to put the Patroons ahead for good at 102-99 with 2:25 to play.

Williams stole a pass and made another pair of foul shots and teammate Mike Williams also made two free throws for a 110-105 advantage with 13 seconds to play.

Huntsville’s La’Darius Carter sank a long 3-pointer and Albany’s Jared Sam dropped a pass out of bounds with 8.4 seconds to play. But a last-second shot by the Hurricanes misfired and Albany held on.

Mike Williams had 17 points for the Patroons, who will face winner of the Midwest finals, which Kokomo leads 1-0.

Patroons president Michael Corts said if Kokomo wins, the Patroons will play Game 1 at Kokomo either Wednesday or Thursday before returning to Albany for Games 2 and 3.

If Toledo wins the Midwest, Corts said, all three games could be played at Washington Avenue Armory, beginning on Thursday.

“Now we’re going to be one of four teams (in the playoffs) and it’s only going to get harder and more difficult,” Brown said.

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