By Kevin Prise
The Purple Eagles defended well. They boxed out well, and for the most part, they rebounded well. They pushed the ball into transition well and stayed smart yet aggressive throughout the non-league contest at Burgard.
But at the end of the day, it was a cold-shooting performance for the Albion squad, one that left the Purple Eagles four points short in a tightly-contested non-league contest in front of a surprisingly pro-Albion crowd at Burgard HS in Buffalo. Albion fell to Burgard, 51-47, to fall to 1-1 on the young season.
After the game, first-year Albion coach Brennan Meakin agreed that poor shooting led to his team's demise. The Purple Eagles finished the night 19-of-61 from the floor.
"It seemed like there was a brick on the basket," Meakin said. "We forced some turnovers, played well, but the shots couldn't fall. It was a hard-fought game, but if the ball can't get in the net, there's not much you can do about it."
Burgard jumped out to a 15-6 lead courtesy to some hot shooting early, but Albion answered with a 13-2 run that spanned the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second. Connor Barleben and Manny Thompson keyed the surge with strong play on the offensive and defensive sides of the court, coming up with turnovers that led to easy buckets.
Barleben finished the evening with six points, while Thompson had 11 to tie Des Blackmon for the Albion scoring lead.
The Bulldogs came out of the gate strong after halftime, taking a 36-28 lead late in the third quarter and forcing Meakin to call timeout. Albion, in turn, responded with three-pointers by Austin Loyd and Blackmon to make the game close again.
The score was 40-36 Burgard heading into the fourth quarter, and the Bulldogs used a strong start to pull away, utilizing a stingy defense to keep Albion from getting any easy baskets. The Purple Eagles managed plenty of reasonably open looks down the stretch, but when just a couple of buckets could have pulled Albion right back into contention, the shots just would not fall.
The result was a 51-38 lead for Burgard in the final minutes, and by the time Albion finally found its shooting touch, it was a little too late. Andrew Burroughs, Blackmon and Thompson all drained threes in the final 90 seconds, but the Purple Eagles ran out of time.
"It was a pretty evenly played game," Meakin said. "We had plenty of opportunities, some good looks, some open shots. But sometimes you just can't put the ball in the hole."
Loyd finished with eight points, while Burroughs had five, Clayton Stanton had four and Ryan Fannin had two.