Cole Keyeski of Albert Lea soars toward the rim Friday at home against Rochester Century. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Cole Keyeski of Albert Lea soars toward the rim Friday at home against Rochester Century. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Tigers continue skid, Panthers win 3rd straight game

Published 2:32pm Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Albert Lea boys’ basketball team’s skid hit six games, and Rochester Century continued to gain momentum.

The Tigers lost 59-45 on Friday at home to the Panthers.

Tyler Vandenheuvel of Albert Lea looks into the paint to pass the ball to Dedoch Chan in the first half Friday against Rochester Century. Vandenheuvel scored 11 points in the loss. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Tyler Vandenheuvel of Albert Lea looks into the paint to pass the ball to Dedoch Chan in the first half Friday against Rochester Century. Vandenheuvel scored 11 points in the loss. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Rochester Century (11-12 overall, 8-8 Big Nine Conference) is still on the wrong side of .500, but it’s on its biggest winning streak of the season. The Panthers won their last three games by taking down Faribault, Rochester John Marshall and Albert Lea.

Headed into Friday’s game, Rochester Century was coming off its biggest win of the year, a 65-64 home win over Rochester John Marshall. The Panthers snapped the Rockets’ eight-game winning streak and gave them their second conference loss of the season.

However, at Albert Lea, the Tigers took command early. After Rochester Century took a 7-5 lead, a put-back by Cody Scherff tied the game, and a 3-pointer by Tyler Vandenheuvel gave Albert Lea a 10-7 lead. A layup by Jakob Kilby gave the Tigers a five-point lead. But after that basket the drought began.

Rochester Century answered with an 11-0 run that morphed into an 18-3 run.

“I thought from start to finish we struggled to score in the halfcourt (set),” said Albert Lea head coach Lucas Kreuscher. “We didn’t handle the pressure very well. Too many turnovers. We played rushed. Credit Century.”

The Tigers showed life shortly before halftime to cut a double digit lead down to six points with free throws by Dedoch Chan and Cody Scherff.

In the second half, the Panthers’ lead grew to 14 points. Albert Lea cut it to 11 points at the 5-minute mark, but Rochester Century had the game clock on its side and no shot clock to worry about to finish off the Tigers.

Dedoch Chan and Cody Scherff led the Tigers in the paint. Chan played a well-rounded game with 18 points, eight rebounds, an assist, a steal and two blocks. Scherff added eight points, four rebounds and two assists.

Tyler Vandenheuvel led Albert Lea from the perimeter with 11 points. Cole Keyeski and Jakob Kilby added four points each.

Kreuscher said he’s looking for continued improvement in the frontcourt and backcourt.

“Teams are sitting on us inside, so the big guys have got to do a better job of creating looks for themselves, and our guards need to do a better job of being threats from the outside,” he said.

Next, Albert Lea (6-18 overall, 4-12 Big Nine Conference) plays its final home game of the season at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Winona. The Tigers will wear camouflage socks to honor former Albert Lea boys’ basketball head coach Orrie Jirele, an avid outdoorsman.

Albert Lea lost the first meeting with Winona 52-42 on the road.

The last game of the regular season will be 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mankato East. Albert Lea beat the Cougars 58-57 at home the first time the two teams met this year.