Comets’ Ubben shocks STC with late jumper

TAMA – Conner Ubben had an off night. He was bottled up from the opening tip by South Tama County’s Sam Kuhter and had just four points until the closing seconds of Friday night’s NICL West Division clash.

Until the closing seconds was the key phrase.

With his Comets down by one with 13 seconds to go, Ubben snuck free, got square and buried a jumper with a hand in his face that sent the BCLUW crowd into a frenzy.

The Trojans held Ubben to seven points below his season average but it just took one big shot to give the Comets their fourth win of the season as they beat South Tama 48-47.

“Conner is always confident in his shot,” BCLUW first-year coach Austin Schlatter said. “Other guys stepped up tonight because he was South Tama’s focus. When he had a look though, he took it and knocked it down.”

The victory ended BCLUW’s three-game losing streak and improved the Comets’ conference record to 3-9. South Tama County dropped to 6-10 overall and 5-7 in league play.

And for STC coach Lonnie Hammond, it was a few plays here and there that cost the host Trojans another NICL win.

“When a game comes down to the final possession, there is always something that happened earlier that you didn’t do. We missed a free throw, we turned it over, we didn’t grab a rebound, stuff like that.”

Free throws may have cost the Trojans a win. STC lost by one and was just 9-of-16 from the charity stripe in the game.

South Tama also had a final look at the basket to win it, but Brad Evans’ wide-open 3 caromed of the rim as time expired.

“It was a wide open look, sometimes you just shake your head and wonder what might have been,” Hammond said.

Schallter said the Comets’ have put a big focus on taking care of the ball in practices recently. The practice paid off as BCLUW (4-10, 3-9) turned it over a season-low eight times and took good shots throughout the game.

“We took care of the ball, which we haven’t always done,” Schlatter said. “We have been focusing on that big time in practice. To me that, and taking good shots, was the difference for us tonight.”

Three players finished in double-figures for the Comets, helping pick up Ubben during his off night.

Wyatt Gunderson led the way with 16 points, while Lane Caster and Isaac Novak each scored 11. The Comets were 5-for-5 from the foul stripe and made two more field goals than STC.

“It’s good to get this win,” Schlatter said. “It was great for the kids to be able to taste victory.”

On the other bench, the Trojans suffered a disappointing loss at home to a conference foe they had already defeated by eight in Conrad.

“Give credit to BCLUW,” Hammond said. “They played hard. They hit some big shots, and we hit some big shots. They just made one more big shot than we did.”

Jose Fonseca and Grant Koch each had 12 to lead the way for the Trojans, while Kuhter added 10. Ian Slagle recorded eight points and four rebounds, while Clay Waterbury dished out a team-high eight assists.

South Tama got off to a fast start as it led 13-7 following a bucket by Koch. A 9-3 run by the Comets though allowed them to tie the score at 16 heading into the second quarter.

Both teams struggled to score in the second and neither team led by more than four. Waterbury gave the Trojans a one-point lead at intermission after connecting on a 3-pointer just before the horn.

The entire second half was nip-and-tuck as neither squad led by more than three. Kuhter hit back-to-back buckets to give the Trojans that three-point cushion but a putback by Caster late gave the Comets a one-point advantage heading into the final frame.

The free throws caught up with the Trojans in that final quarter. Fonseca and Daryl Bidwell both missed one early in the frame and then another miss by Waterbury kept his team in front by just one.

The lead changed hands three times in the final 47 seconds. Gunderson gave the Comets a lead with a bucket inside and then Koch scored in the lane to give the advantage back to South Tama.

Then Ubben’s jumper gave the Comets their final lead and that advantage held up for the BCLUW win.