Albert Lea’s Bryn Woodside drives past Winona’s Dulcey Milek during the Tigers’ Sectional 1AAA first-round win over the Winhawks. Woodside led Albert Lea in scoring with 23 points. — Submitted
Albert Lea’s Bryn Woodside drives past Winona’s Dulcey Milek during the Tigers’ Sectional 1AAA first-round win over the Winhawks. Woodside led Albert Lea in scoring with 23 points. — Submitted

Albert Lea upsets Winona

Published 10:43am Thursday, February 28, 2013

Albert Lea stunned Winona 49-47 on the road in the first round of the Section 1AAA girls’ basketball tournament.

“It was back and forth the whole game, but we hit some big shots and played really well,” Albert Lea head coach Lindsey Hugstad-Vaa said.

The No. 7-seed Tigers built a five-point lead at halftime over the No. 2-seed Winhawks (28-23).

In the second half, Winona made a run and took a brief lead, but Albert Lea kept its composture.

“Winona used a lot of ball pressure, but we did a great job of staying calm,” Hugstad-Vaa said.

The Tigers showed hustle on the glass, amassing 25 defensive and seven offensive boards. Albert Lea held Winona to under 50 points for only the seventh time this season in 25 games.

“The girls boxed out really well,” Hugstad-Vaa said. “We did a good job of playing tough defense.”

Late in the game, senior leaders Dominique Villarreal and Lindsey Stewart fouled out for Albert Lea’s front court, but Hugstad-Vaa said her bench filled in nicely.

“Sara Niebuhr and Danielle Staat stepped into the post position and played really hard for us,” she said.

Junior guard Bryn Woodside led the Tigers offensively with 23 points, while junior guard Sydney Rehnelt added 17 points and a team-high four assists. Together, the duo was 6-of-12 from beyond the arc.

Villarreal led Albert Lea with 11 rebounds to go with two points, three assists and a steal.

The Winhawks and the Tigers entered the postseason on three-game winning streaks. The team that handed each club its last regular-season loss was the Big Nine Conference champ Mankato East.

When Winona hosted Albert Lea on Jan. 18 during the regular season, the Winhawks slipped past the Tigers 61-56.

In the second round of the tournament, Albert Lea has a chance to avenge another regular season loss. On Dec. 8, Kasson-Mantorville defeated the Tigers 69-62 in Albert Lea.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, the Tigers will play at No. 3-seed Kasson-Mantorville. The Komets defeated No. 6-seed Byron 70-62 in the first round.

Albert Lea improved to 11-13 overall, and Kasson-Mantorville is 18-9.

“We’re really excited to play again,” Hugstad-Vaa said. “It’s a great matchup to see them in the semifinals.”