ALBANY — The Albany Patroons encouraged fans to bring pots and pans to Game 2 of the TBL East Regional Finals on Sunday to make noise. Staff members even offered fans some if they forgot.
Eventually, the Patroons used everything but the kitchen sink to beat Kokomo 106-89 before another loud, passionate crowd at Washington Avenue Armory. The deciding Game 3 is at 7 p.m. Monday for the right to face Shreveport in the TBL Championship.
One of Albany coach Will Brown’s biggest priorities for Sunday was to match the physicality Kokomo showed in winning Game 1. The Patroons did that in a first quarter that resembled an NBA game from when Kokomo coach Cliff Levingston was playing with Detroit, Atlanta and Chicago in the 1980s and ’90s. There were hand hooks, bumps, jostles and elbows. Hand checks on ball-handlers were barely noticeable, as players used forearm checks. It was only a question of what got the referees’ attention.
The important thing, though, was that Albany took it and gave it back — and led 22-20 after the quarter. Once it continued to be physical with Kokomo, it found just the right time to run on the Bobkats. Davon Dillard scored on a fast break to give Albany a 39-33 lead with 5:05 left in the second. That was the start of a 15-4 run until halftime. It included a nifty Anthony Moe dunk on a Dillard assist, Mike Williams 3-pointer, another fast-break bucket by Dillard and a pick-and-roll basket, inside basket and two free throws from Moe to give Albany a 52-37 lead.
“I thought we deserved to win today because of our energy, our effort, our enthusiasm. We played the right way today,” Brown said.
Moe led Albany with 16 points and seven rebounds at halftime, so when he picked up his fourth foul and sat on the bench with 11:25 left in the third, it was a test to see how Albany would respond.
Kokomo rallied, cutting the Patroons’ lead to nine, 62-53, before Albany went on another important run, outscoring the Bobkats 18-6 the rest of the quarter. While it got many contributions during the run, Trevis Wyche and Mike Williams were particularly sharp. Wyche had two points, two assists and a steal in the span, while Williams delivered eight points and an assist.
“Physicality and finish the plays,” Wyche said of the game’s keys. “Get the rebound and just run. That’s basically it.”
Albany kept its comfortable lead for most of the fourth quarter, but went over the limit in fouls with a little over 4 minutes remaining, so that opened a window for Kokomo, which closed Albany’s lead to 96-85 with 2:04 left. A 3-pointer from Williams — who scored a game-high 24 points — on the next possession, however, essentially sealed the win.
A.J. Mosby and Moe each added 18 points, with Mosby delivering a game-high eight assists and Moe grabbing a game-high nine rebounds. Jared Sam and Luther Page also reached double figures, with 14 and 11 points respectively. Sam also had seven rebounds.
Most impressively, 26 of Albany’s 41 field goals were assisted. Williams and Wyche each had five assists.
“When I was in, I was trying to get stops, push the tempo, get my guys involved and just make plays,” Wyche said. “When we get out in transition, we’re a hard team to beat. We’ve got so many guys that can make plays. When we get out, everybody’s feeling good.”
Brown said the fans deserved a round of applause for their role in the win. Whether noise truly affects professional players can be debated, but Kokomo was only 20 of 32 (62.5%) from the foul line.
“The Armory is an unbelievable place to play,” Brown said. “They put people in here — those pots and pans give me a headache, but it seemed like the fans embraced it. We created energy and enthusiasm, and I thought the fans jumped on board based on how we were playing and what we were doing on the court.”
Brown knows Kokomo will make adjustments for Game 3. His team, he said, just has to tweak a couple of things and, most of all, be ready.
“We don’t need to do anything spectacular or anything out of the ordinary,” he said. “We need to play really hard, really tough and really smart.”
Arnett 3-1-7, Giles 4-0-8, Boyd 3-4-10, Hawthorne 3-8-14, Harris 3-3-9, Griffin 2-3-7, Plummer 2-0-4, Gibson 2-1-6, Moore 4-0-8, Henderson 6-0-16. Totals: 32-20-89.
Mosby 6-4-18, Moe 6-6-18, Glasford 3-0-6, Dillard 3-2-8, Sam 6-2-14, K.Williams 1-0-3, Page 5-1-11, M.Williams 9-1-24, Wyche 2-0-4. Totals: 41-16-106.
Kokomo 20 17 22 30 – 89
Albany 22 30 28 26 – 106