Comets claim trophy

Published 12:18 pm Thursday, December 29, 2005

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - For the second straight year, the Coloma Comets have claimed the Niles Holiday Tournament championship trophy.
On Wednesday evening, Coloma held off a strong comeback by Niles in the final minute of the fourth quarter to claim the 59-56 win.
Last year, the Comets grabbed the 52-45 win in the first ever Holiday Classic.
But Wednesday's championship was a little closer than that. In fact, the biggest lead of the night came at the end of the first period when Coloma had a 17-10 lead over the Vikes.
Niles added 10 additional points in the second period with the help of two threes by Tom Robson and Brandon Thomas and buckets from Thomas, Nick Etzcorn and Nate Parks to bring the halftime score to 27-24 in favor of the Vikings.
In the third period, Niles held onto a small lead for the first two minutes, but a dunk with five minutes on the clock from Coloma's Tyler LaVanway tied the game at 35 and put the Comets right back in the game.
LaVanway had 23 points on the night, just one more point than he had during last year's final game.
At the end of the third, Niles had a 43-41 lead, the last time it would see a lead for the rest of the contest.
Coloma scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth to plunge the Comets ahead of the Vikes, 51-43 with 1:53 on the clock.
Lavette Walker was the first to score for Niles in the period when he went 1-for-2 on the free throw line with 1:19 left to play.
Thomas added a basket, but Coloma's Spencer Paulsen went 2-for-2 at the line to keep the Comets ahead, 54-46.
Danny Rodts entered the game for Niles and bombed a three-pointer with 42 seconds left, but the Vikings were forced to foul for the rest of the game, putting Brian Saltzman on the line for two successful free throws.
With 24 seconds left, Thomas threw up a one handed three pointer, which bounced into the basket. He was fouled by Coloma's Rickey Ficher, putting him on the line for a successful four-point play.
One second later, Paulsen was back on the free throw line for the Comets, going 2-for-2 to keep Coloma ahead, 58-53.
Robson brought Niles within two points of a tie when he nailed a three with 17 seconds left, but Paulsen went 1-for-2 on the free throw line to keep the Comets up by three, 59-56 with 12 seconds left.
In Niles' last possession, two threes were attempted by Parks and Thomas, both bouncing off the rim as time expired.
Thomas ended the night with 24 points for the Vikes, while Etzcorn and Robson both had 11.
LaVanway led the Comets with 23.