Hot shooting Huskies down Tigers

Published 11:56 am Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Tigers knew they would have to find a way to stop Owatonna’s 6-foot-7 Kyle Melcher and 6-foot-8 Taylor Steinbauer in order to compete, what they didn’t count on was the Huskies’ ability to hit the outside shot.

Owatonna came out firing from 3-point range in the first half Friday as the Albert Lea boys’ basketball team fell 71-34 to the Huskies at Albert Lea High School.

Owatonna hit eight 3-pointers in the first half and Sam Peters accounted for half of them as the Huskies took advantage of open looks from the perimeter. Peters finished with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range.

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The Tigers (1-18, 0-12) focused their attention on Melcher and Steinbauer and limited their effectiveness throughout the first half, but Albert Lea could do nothing against the red-hot perimeter shooting from Owatonna.

“We had to pick and choose someone and they were able to knock down some shots tonight,” Albert Lea head coach Chad Feikema said.

Melcher finished with 10 points and Steinbauer had 11, but the efforts of a deep bench made up for their lack of production. A total of 13 different players scored Friday in the win.

Owatonna (13-6, 9-3) built a 19-point lead at halftime behind a strong shooting performance and took advantage of a string of Tiger miscues.

Albert Lea turned the ball over on five consecutive possessions at one point in the first half and the Huskies turned the turnovers into points quickly.

Owatonna finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc.

“When they shoot the ball like they shot it tonight from the perimeter they are going to be very difficult to defend,” Feikema said.

The Tigers tried to slow things down on the offensive end in order to limit offensive possessions for the Huskies and it worked with some success in the first half as Albert Lea stayed within 12 midway through the first before untimely turnovers turned into 3-pointers at the other end.

“We wanted to be really patient,” Feikema said. “We spent some time this week timing our possessions. Even in the first half when we were able to run a possession in excess of 20 seconds we got really good shots.”

The same couldn’t be said in the second half as the Tigers hit just three field goals in the second half and scored eight points in the half.

“In the second half our objective was that we wanted to get better at executing offensively,” Feikema said. “One of the things that stopped happening was that we stopped making plays. In the first half we were patient, we looked for opportunities to make plays. In the second half we were patient, but we were not as good at finding the opportunities to make the plays.”

Albert Lea had just one scorer in double figures with Colby Strilaeff leading the team with 12 points.

The shift in offensive strategy for the Tigers comes as Feikema prepares the team for the section playoffs which begin the second weekend in March. Feikema believes the longer possessions increase the chances of pulling off an upset.

“As we think about getting ready for playoff time and some of the teams we’ll play, we have to limit offensive possessions, if we’re going to be a team to pull off an upset at playoff time,” he said. “We feel good about some of the movement that we’re getting, but we need to find the opportunities to make plays.”

Albert Lea travels to Faribault Tuesday to face the Falcons.

Owatonna 71, Albert Lea 34

Owatonna 45 26 — 71

Albert Lea 26 8 — 34

Owatonna scoring: Sam Peters 15, Taylor Steinbauer 11, Kyle Melcher 10, Mitch Hawkins 6, Matt Wagner 6, Colin Wencel 5, Vaughn Thada 5, Adam Troy 3, Tyler Supalla 2, Sheridan Skala 2, Blayze Peterson 2, Nate Kaffine 2, Brian Wagner 2.

Albert Lea scoring: Colby Strilaeff 12, Alik Smed 7, Sean Templeman 6, Damian Montes 4, Brandon Antl 3, Colton Zuniga 1, Woody Dahl 1.