ALBANY — The Albany Patroons went from being the chum in the water to the sharks.
Down 87-76 after the third quarter, the Patroons outscored Huntsville 34-21 in the final quarter to win Game 2 Friday and capture the TBL Eastern Conference Finals before a loud and appreciative crowd at Washington Avenue Armory.
Reserve Kameron Williams scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth and spearheaded a remarkable rally. Albany moves on to the Regional Finals next week against either Kokomo or Toledo.
“We just had to put a lot of pressure on the ball and get the ball,” Williams said. “If we have the ball in our hands and we’re running our offense and the transition, nobody can really guard us.
“They started moving us around with defensive rotations, putting the ball on the rim and just outworking us,” Williams added. “And you can’t really win a championship getting outworked, so we had to lock in.”
The Patroons tied the game at 99 on a 3-pointer by A.J. Mosby (23 points), then took their first lead since late in the second quarter, 102-99, on three foul shots by Williams with 2:25 left.
With Albany ahead 106-103, Williams stole the ball on a Huntsville back-door attempt and was fouled. He sank both free throws with 22.8 seconds left to make it a 108-103 lead.
The Patroons needed that cushion, as Huntsville closed to within 110-108, and had the ball with a chance to win after an Albany turnover with 8.4 seconds left. But the Hurricanes’ final shot missed the mark, setting off a raucous celebration inside the Armory.
“Again, they had us on our heels all night long,” Albany coach Will Brown said of Huntsville, “but good teams find a way to win. Really good teams learn from games like this, and I’m hoping we learned from this.”
Brown said the crowd absolutely deserved the win. The Patroons haven’t lost in the Armory in 16 games this season.
“There’s no other facility in the Capital District as loud and as electric as this when the fans are into it,” Brown said. “The fan support, the community support is why we won tonight. … It’s OK to not play well, but you need to play extremely hard. We didn’t play well.”
Huntsville’s largest run of the night, eight points, helped it take an 83-68 lead with 2:37 left in the third.
Dallas Jones led Huntsville with a game-high 27 points.
Mike Williams added 17 points for the Patroons. Big men Jared Sam and Anthony Moe added 15 points and 10 rebounds and 14 points and six rebounds, respectively. B.J. Glasford scored 10 points.
There was no question, though, that Kameron Williams stepped up the most when it was needed in the fourth quarter.
“It’s been difficult,” he said. “I don’t get a lot of time. I know if I come in and bring the work in practice every day — come early, stay late — that’s the formula.”
Huntsville 32 28 18 21 — 108
Albany 36 22 17 34 — 110
Huntsville scoring: Jones 8-8-27, Smith 8-0-16, Higgins 3-2-8, F.Sturdivant 6-1-13, Carter 3-6-15, Moore 3-0-7, Suttles 6-2-14, C.Sturdivant 4-0-8. Totals: 41-19-108. Albany scoring: Dillard 4-0-8, Mosby 8-2-23, M.Williams 6-2-17, Sam 6-3-15, Moe 4-5-14, K.Williams 3-8-16, Glasford 4-1-10, Page 2-2-7. Totals: 37-23-110.