CONRAD - Conner Ubben wasn't flicking his wrist on jump shots. That is what the junior said Monday after the Comets' postseason win over Valley Lutheran at BCLUW High School.
"Coach told me that when I was shooting the ball I wasn't flicking my wrist and that may have been why some of my shots weren't going in," Ubben said. "That has helped me a lot."
Since he began to flick his wrists, Ubben has been on a scoring tear and his 26 points against the Crusaders propelled BCLUW to a 55-41 home victory in Class 1A District 8 tournament action.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
BCLUW junior Conner Ubben scored 26 points Monday in the Comets’ 55-41 Class 1A District 8 playoff win over Valley Lutheran in Conrad.
"Conner shot it well tonight, but we can't always rely on the jump shot," BCLUW first-year coach Austin Schlatter said. "We needed to look inside more and we did a much better job with that in the second half."
Ubben hit four 3-pointers in the game and had 12 of the Comets' 16 first-quarter points. The number grew to 16 points at halftime and back-to-back triples in the third quarter put him past the 20-point mark and gave the Comets a nine-point advantage.
"I hope we all can shoot the ball like that Thursday," Ubben said. "I just got lucky today."
Thursday is the quarterfinal round of the district tournament and things get much more challenging as the Comets head to Traer to face No. 6 North Tama.
"We have to play our game," Ubben said of his team's date with the Redhawks. "They will want to run it, so we need to try to slow it down and drive the ball to the paint and hopefully kick it out to the shooters if we can. We lost to them by four in a scrimmage in the preseason so it is doable."
The Comets (8-12) jumped out to an 11-2 lead against Valley Lutheran, which is playing in its inaugural season as a basketball program. Ubben scored his 10th point of the frame to make it 14-4, but the Crusaders cut it to six after one.
Valley Lutheran (2-20) is comprised of only seven players but the Crusaders would not go away quietly. They closed to within one point at 20-19 midway through the second quarter and only trailed by seven at halftime.
John Stone had 10 points at the break and a team-high 16 in the loss for the Crusaders.
"They played hard," Schlatter said of the Crusaders. "When you have a first-year program, that's a credit to the kids. Going 2-19 is never easy."
The depth of the Comets came into play in the second half and a 10-0 run in the third quarter allowed BCLUW to pull away. It was 28-25 before the spurt, which included the back-to-back treys by Ubben. Wyatt Gunderson also added back-to-back buckets and Lane Caster scored on a putback to push the advantage to 41-25.
"They were able to hang with us in the first half, but I think we wore them down with our depth," Ubben said.
The largest lead of the game was 22 points after Ubben hit two free throws with 2:15 to go in the game. Valley Lutheran closed the game on an 11-3 run to trim into its margin, but BCLUW was never really threatened after halftime.
"Everyone is 0-0 at this point, so we couldn't get caught up in what their record was," Schlatter said. "They didn't shoot it that well this year, but we gave up too many offensive rebounds. If you give a team three chances, they will probably make one. We have to limit the second-chance points against North Tama."
Schlatter also said his Comets cannot make mistakes against the Redhawks. North Tama comes into the game with just one loss and will be heavily favored to win.
"They have a good team," Schlatter said. "We can't make mistakes and hopefully we can force them into making a few. If we can do that, we can make a game of it and maybe even win.
"We need to do the little things and protect the ball. We need to take good shots, too."
Caster had eight points for the Comets, while Grant Frazer added seven in the win.
Stone's 16 points came on eight field goals. Isaiah Armbrecht hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 for Valley Lutheran, which is located in Cedar Falls. No other Crusader scored more than four.
The Comets will take their three-game win streak into Thursday's District 8 quarterfinal. The Redhawks and Comets will tip off at 7 p.m.
"We've been building up to this all season long, and it is starting to come together for us," Ubben said.
Valley Lutheran lost 15 straight games to open the season but was coming off a 49-18 win over Clarksville. The Crusaders also beat Valley Community 48-44. They are not a member of a conference yet. ... BCLUW's two other victories during the win streak came against East Marshall and GMG. ... Ubben is averaging 12.7 points per game but has scored at least 16 in three of his last four games. He put in 19 during an overtime win over GMG on Friday and had 16 in a loss to Gilbert the week prior.