AURORA — Adams Central’s debut in the Central Conference tournament will conclude with an appearance in Saturday’s championship game.

The conference newcomers earned that spot by using hot shooting in the fourth quarter to repel Seward’s comeback bid and clinch a 51-37 semifinal victory.

“(Reaching the finals) is important for us because we feel that we’ve had a good program,” Adams Central coach Zac Foster said. “You only have so many chances to make a first impression, and we felt coming in this year that we wanted to give our best in this tournament. We wanted to represent our program the way we think we are, and we’re just happy to get to the championship game.”

The Class C-1 No. 10-rated Patriots (13-4) extended their lead over the cold-shooting Bluejays to 12 points in the third quarter.

But Seward (7-8) used turnovers and transition baskets to go on an 8-0 run to pull within 30-26 to end the period.

Adams Central responded by scoring on its first five possessions of the fourth to build a 42-29 advantage.

Haggan Hilgendorf and David Bohlen hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get the run started.

“I was so proud of the maturity of our kids in that situation because they had all the momentum,” Foster said. “We got really loose with it and were undisciplined at the end of the third when they made their run.

“We kept telling our guys they weren’t scoring in the half-court. They were scoring because we were turning the ball over. Finally we took care of the ball and hit a couple of shots. That takes mental toughness.”

Jack Keller scored seven of his game-high 16 points in the fourth to help the Patriots pull away.

“I think we weathered the storm and stayed with it,” Keller said. “If they make a shot, you just go back on offense and go right at them. You can’t be hesitant.”

Bohlen added 15 points and nine rebounds for Adams Central, which led 19-9 at the half.

Seward only shot 20 percent (4-for-20) against the Patriots’ active 2-3 zone prior to halftime.

“We thought we would struggle with some match-ups with our man,” Foster said. “When we play (zone) that way, it’s pretty good. I thought we were really engaged. We communicated really well and we really moved collectively. When you do that, a zone’s tough.”

Keller added: “When your zone stops, it’s dead and they can do whatever they want against it. But if you keep your hands up and block the lanes, they won’t get through it.”

Adams Central faces Class B No. 1 Aurora in Saturday’s 7:45 p.m. championship game. The Huskies topped the Patriots 78-48 in the season opener.

“We know what’s waiting obviously,” Foster said. “I think they’re one of the top two or three teams all-class. I think they have zero weaknesses. They’re phenomenal. We saw firsthand the first week of the year.”

Adams Central...........6 13 11 21—51

Seward.......................7 2 17 11—37

ADAMS CENTRAL (13-4): David Bohlen 6-14 0-0 15, Dawson Eckhardt 2-5 4-4 8, Jack Keller 5-9 2-2 16, Thomas Hunt 2-9 1-1 5, Haggan Hilgendorf 3-5 0-0 7, Grady Kershner 0-0 0-0 0, Drake LeBar 0-0 0-0 0, Nate Kiolbasa 0-1 0-0 0, Nolan Sughroue 0-1 0-0 0, Cole Spady 0-0 0-0 0, Landon Weber 0-0 0-0 0, Ethan Lang 0-0 0-0 0, Cameron Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-44 7-7 51.

SEWARD (7-8): Nate Lliteras 4-14 0-3 9, Brett Meyer 2-10 5-6 9, Joseph Krause 1-7 2-3 5, Parx Kesselring 1-2 0-0 2, Elijah Smith 3-5 0-1 7, Nate Gustafson 0-0 0-0 0, Kelly Vyhnalek 0-1 0-0 0, Bryson Janousek 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Ruth 0-1 0-0 0, Corbin Ruth 1-5 0-0 2, Bailey Sloan 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 13-46 7-13 37.

3-point field goals—AC 8-26 (Bohlen 3-8, Kiolbasa 0-1, Sughroue 0-1, Eckhardt 0-2, Keller 4-7, Hunt 0-5, Holgendorf 1-2), Seward 4-21 (Lliteras 1-6, Meyer 0-4, Krause 1-4, Con. Ruth 0-1, Cor. Ruth 0-3, Kesselring 0-1, Sloan 1-1, Smith 1-1). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—AC 39 (Bohlen 9), Seward 24 (Krause 6). Assists—AC 9 (Hunt, Bohlen 4), Seward 6 (Krause 3). Turnovers—AC 13, Seward 7. Total fouls—AC 15, Seward 12. Technicals—none.

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