Tigers find shooting touch in victory over West

Published 3:32 am Saturday, December 19, 2009

Albert Lea’s girls’ basketball team has struggled with its shooting percentage through the first five games of the season, topping out at 33 percent, but Friday night against Mankato West the Tigers found their shooting touch.

The Tigers (3-3, 2-1 Big Nine) shot a season-high 38 percent from the field, including a 41 percent performance during the second half to hold off the Scarlets (1-6, 1-2 Big Nine) 59-55 at Albert Lea High School.

Morgan Stadheim was one of the Tigers who struggled with her shot through the first five games of the season, but she finished with a team-high 17 points on 7 of 16 shooting.

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“It’s kind of a relief because I felt like at the start of the season I was just scared to take shots, scared to air ball it,” Stadheim said. “I just put that behind me and try to put them up and help our team.”

Stadheim began the season with a 6 for 24 performance against Waseca and was shooting 29 percent from the field entering the game.

“It was kind of embarrassing,” Stadheim said. “I’m supposed to be one of the leaders of the team, set an example and here I am forcing shots, not making anything. I’m supposed to be helping our team and I wasn’t really doing very much of that on the offensive end.”

Stadheim scored 10 of her 17 points in the second half for her third straight double-digit effort and her scoring helped keep Mankato West at bay in the second half.

The Scarlets shot 44 percent from the field in the second half after shooting just 25 percent in the first half.

Mankato West got a number of easy baskets off Tiger turnovers as its press created problems for Albert Lea. The Tigers turned the ball over 17 times.

“It was an ugly win, but a win is a win,” said Albert Lea senior Abbey Arends, who finished with 16 points.

The Tigers outrebounded the Scarlets 58-41 for the game but early in the first half Mankato West seemed to be winning the rebounds, especially on offense. The Scarlets fired 40 shots, but made just 10.

“I think we came out overconfident and our rebounding was terrible so we were pretty lucky they didn’t put those second shots away,” Stadheim said. “I think if they would have hit those we would have been in trouble.”

Albert Lea went on a 10-0 run in the first half, but Mankato West rallied with a 9-0 run to make it a three-point game at halftime.

The margin of victory might have been larger for the Tigers if they made free throws down the stretch, but Albert Lea went 5 of 12 from the free throw line in the second half and finished 11 of 23 for the game.

The Tigers remained undefeated at home this season with the victory and picked up their second conference victory of the season. Albert Lea had just six Big Nine victories last season.

The Tigers will have an opportunity to improve their home record Dec. 28 when they open the Tiger Classic.

Albert Lea 59, Mankato West 55

Mankato West 23 32 — 55

Albert Lea 26 33 — 59

Mankato West scoring: Emily Doyle 14, Brianna Christiansen 12, Malorie Veroeven 11, Jessica Makela 7, Clarissa Ahlquist 5, Morgan Klaustermeier 4, Dani Sukalski 2.

Albert Lea scoring: Abbey Arends 17, Morgan Stadheim 16, Mikaela Pierson 8, Skyler Anderson 6, Taylor Friehl 6, Sarah Wenum 5, Lana Howe 1.