PRESTON — Make no mistake about it. Blackfoot was in trouble heading into the fourth quarter of their opening round conference tournament game at Preston on Tuesday night. That is until a small defensive shift to a pressure man-to-man look. That subtle adjustment on the defensive end sparked a fourth quarter comeback as the men in black advanced to the right side of the tournament bracket with a hard fought 48-45 victory.
"We just put our emphasis on more pressure in our man defense," Blackfoot head coach Dan Hale said. "We wanted to see how they would react to it and we were able to get into the passing lanes which disrupted what they were trying to do."
Disruption to be sure as the Broncos completely shut down the Preston offense, holding the Indians to no field goals in the deciding fourth quarter of play.
Blackfoot entered the fourth quarter trailing by nine points at 41-32 as the home standing Indians were looking for their third straight victory over the Broncos.
Pual Cannon got the fourth quarter started with a put back on a missed shot on the first offensive possession for the Broncos. Seconds later he picked the pocket of the Preston ball handler which eventually led to a McKye Watt lay up and suddenly the deficit was just five. After a defensive stop Colby Pearson then chimed in with a three point play the old fashioned way when he drove to the hoop for an and one forcing a Preston time out as the Broncos were now down by just two at 41-39.
"We could have rolled over when we got down like that," Coach Hale said. "We asked the boys in the huddle if that was how they wanted to finish the game and they responded. They trusted each other and got it done."
Out of the time out Preston were able to get a trio of free throws to extend the lead back to five until an Austin Campell lay up with 4:36 remaining stopped that mini run by the Indians. After a Preston free throw at 4:20, Blackfoot then pulled to within two points with a Taylor Cannon jumper in the lane.
Preston did not score for the remainder of the period and with 3:03 left in the game Campbell took a beautiful bounce pass in the lane on a pick and roll from Colby Pearson. Campbell then scored, drew the foul and after converting the three point play Blackfoot led for good at 46-45.
"I think that the biggest difference tonight from Friday nights game here was our inside game," Coach Hale said. "On Friday we couldn't even get a shot off down low but tonight we were able to get our inside game going which was a big key."
Blackfoot followed with a defensive stop on the next Preston possession giving them the ball with 2:45 remaining in the game. Preston would not see the ball for nearly two minutes as Blackfoot went into their motion game eventually leading to a foul on Paul Cannon with ;50 remaining. Cannon converted both ends of the one and one for a three point Blackfoot advantage. Preston had two shots at tying the game down the stretch but neither shot fell as Blackfoot advances to a second round game at Rigby on Thursday evening with the 48-45 victory.
"We went into our open set which killed the clock and made them work really hard on the defensive end," Coach Hale said. "Now we have our first tournament win under me as the head coach. We know now that we can win these big games and we are looking forward to Rigby. I know that the kids will be ready to go."
Tip off at Rigby on Thursday is scheduled for 7 p.m.
BLACKFOOT 48, PRESTON 45
Blackfoot 12 12 8 16 - 48
Preston 11 13 17 4 - 45
Blackfoot (48) - Colby Pearson 5, Alonzo Ramos 8, Paul Cannon 8, Tyler Cannon 8, McKye Watt 2, Austin Campbell 11, Aaron Vail 6. FG: 19. FT: 5-8. 3-pointers (Alonzo Ramos 1). Fouls: 11. Fouled out: none.
Preston (45) - Hobbs 2, Sloan 3, A. Smelley 8, T. Smelley 25. Lords 7. FG: 14. FT: 10-17. 3-pointers (T. Smelley 5, A. Smelley 2). Fouls: 11. Fouled out: none.