Sarah Niebuhr of Albert Lea looks to pass the ball Saturday against Mankato East, while teammate Bryn Woodside looks on. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Sarah Niebuhr of Albert Lea looks to pass the ball Saturday against Mankato East, while teammate Bryn Woodside looks on. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Tigers fall to Cougars in triple OT

Published 7:38pm Saturday, February 22, 2014

A chance for the Albert Lea girls’ basketball team to keep climbing the Big Nine Conference standings was thwarted by Mankato East on Thursday in triple overtime.

The Tigers led 33-28 at halftime but fell 69-67.

Both teams made one free throw in the first overtime. Neither team scored in the second overtime, and Mankato East hit two 3-pointers to take the lead and win in the final overtime.

An Albert Lea win would have tied the Tigers and Cougars at fifth place in the Big Nine standings.

Despite the loss, Albert Lea head coach Lindsey Hugstad-Vaa said the game will prepare her team for the section tournament.

“It’ll help us when it comes to battling through adversity,” she said. “I’m proud of how hard the girls played. There was nothing to be ashamed of.”

Two Tigers had double-doubles, and Sydney Rehnelt neared a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.

Megan Kortan led Albert Lea offensively and was two steals shy of a triple-double. She had 28 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals. Bryn Woodside added 24 points and 10 assists.

“Megan stepped up defensively and was hitting her shots,” Hugstad-Vaa said. “Bryn is so composed out there as a leader. They both played well.”

Sarah Niebuhr led the Tigers in the paint with 10 rebounds and one point.

“Sarah played well on defense, too,” Hugstad-Vaa said. “She did a good job of bumping Ziegler around.”

Ziegler was held to seven of 15 from the field, but she scored a team-high 24 points and grabbed a game-high 23 rebounds to lead Mankato East.

Mankato East swept the regular-season series because of a 55-48 home win over the Tigers Jan. 21 at Mankato.

The loss snapped Albert Lea’s four-game winning streak.

The Tigers (10-14 overall, 7-10 Big Nine Conference) will play next at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at Byron in its second-to-last regular-season game.

Hugstad-Vaa said Section 1AAA seeds will be figured out Saturday. The Tigers, 6-3 in the section, will most likely be the No. 3 seed. Winona, 8-2, is No. 2 in the standings, and Austin, 3-5, is No. 4.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: Feb. 22 post.