(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
BLOOMFIELD -- Though Kelly was able to fight back from a slow start on Tuesday to trail by only a point at the half, the Hawks couldn't deny Bloomfield a win on Senior Night.
After hanging within a shot into the final minute of play, Kelly watched the Wildcats finish out the game going 7 of 9 from the free throw line to seal a 58-51 win.
"There's no give up in the boys in that locker room," Hawks' coach Josh Eftink said. "That's one thing I can say about them this season. They've had times they could have folded up and thrown it in, but I'm proud of them for the way they've battled and played hard the whole year."
Coming out of the break trailing 29-28, the Hawks took a momentary lead when Brent Forck opened the third quarter with a quick 3-pointer. Held scoreless for nearly three full minutes after Forck's shot, however, Kelly quickly found themselves back in a hole.
Scoring on a basket in the paint, Thomas Forkum opened up a 8-0 Bloomfield run that forced Kelly to call a timeout while trailing 37-31 with 4:40 left in the frame.
Holding Bloomfield (13-13) to a 4-4 draw the rest of the quarter, the Hawks (4-16) entered the fourth still trailing by six at 41-35.
"We made a good push there at the first part of the second half," Bloomfield coach Jason Karnes said. "That's one thing we talk a lot about is coming out of halftime those first two or three minutes are pretty big.
"To come out here and get that lead to six was good. We didn't take many good shots after we got that lead, which hurt us, but we were able to settle down a little bit and get the ball where it needed to go."
Falling back by as many as eight points in the first few minutes of the fourth, the Hawks went into the final three minutes of the game still trailing by seven and looking to make one last push.
The Hawks' hopes were kept alive when Gaven Ray connected on a pair of shots from behind the arc to open a 6-2 rally that closed Kelly to within three, at 51-48, with 1:02 to play.
With Bloomfield trying to burn as much time as possible, the Hawks were forced to continually send the Wildcats to the foul line.
Hitting on 7 of 9 attempts from the line in the final 48 seconds, Bloomfield was able to stave off Kelly's rally thanks in part to the Hawks missing four of their final five 3-point attempts of the game.
"We handled some situations down late," Karnes said. "That was one of our Achilles heels toward the first and middle parts of the season.
"We didn't handle close game situations very well. So to handle another one like that was good for us."
After hitting only one of their first nine shots to start the game, it was a strong second quarter rally that had the Hawks within a point at the half.
Opening up the game with an 11-2 run in the first three minutes, Bloomfield pulled away by as many as 10 before a 3-pointer by Forck in the final seconds of the first frame pulled Kelly back to within seven, at 16-9, entering the second quarter.
Jeff Gates scored 10 points in the second quarter and the Hawks shot 8 of 13 from the floor as Kelly came back to take the lead on a 9-3 run late in the frame.
With only 14 seconds before the half Gates hit a three from the left corner of the floor give the Hawks a two-point advantage. Marching back down the floor Bloomfield was able to reclaim the lead with four seconds remaining on a 3-pointer from Thomas Sanders.
"It was one of those things early on," Eftink said of his team's second quarter push. "They haven't played in a gym like this. It's a different type of gym to shoot in if you're not used to it with the background and stuff.
"I told them if we keep moving the ball around and keep getting good open shots, then our shots are going to start falling and we'll get back in the game. That's kind of what happened the second quarter. We started shooting the ball a little better."
Leading the way for the Hawks, Ray and Gates had a game-high 17 points each with Forck contributing 10. Kelly had 11 3-pointers on the contest with Gates and Ray hitting four and three respectively.
For the Wildcats, Thomas Sanders had 11 points with Brett Ruch and Forkum scoring 10 each.
Bloomfield ended the contest shooting 21 of 44 (48 percent) from the floor while Kelly shot 18 of 53 (34 percent).
"It feels good to get a win on Senior Night," Karnes said. "That's one of things you hope you can always send your seniors out on the right foot and that's what we were able to do tonight."
Earlier in the night, Kelly's junior varsity took a seven-point halftime lead before defeating Bloomfield's junior varsity 45-40.
Jared Lynn and Josh Roberts had 15 and 11 points each for the Hawks while Tim Fox led the Wildcats with 15.
BLOOMFIELD (58) -- Caleb Baker 3, Joel Battles 2, Brett Ruch 10, Logan Cowart 2, Thomas Sanders 11, Zach Pounds 7, Adam Vandiver 9, Austin Cooper 4, Thomas Forkum 10. FG 21, FT 11-18, F 12. (3-pointers: Baker 1, Sanders 3, Forkum 1. Fouled out: none.)
KELLY (51) -- Gaven Ray 17, Aaron Grainger 6, Brent Forck 10, Jeff Gates 17, Gabe Felter 1. FG 18, FT4-7, F 17. (3-pointers: Ray 3, Grainger 2, Forck 2, Gates 4. Fouled out: none.)