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Gallery: Knights win 3rd straight

Brady Neel of Alden-Conger shoots from the perimeter on Monday against Schaeffer Academy at Alden. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Brady Neel of Alden-Conger shoots from the perimeter on Monday against Schaeffer Academy at Alden. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

ALDEN — After three games this season, the Alden-Conger basketball team is off to its best start since 2006.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Knights coach Bob Hansen. “This is the group of boys that you’d look down the line, and you’d see this. We want to be way above .500, and this is a good start.”

The Knights built on strong showings in their first two games with an 81-52 victory on Monday against Schaeffer Academy.

Although it was Alden-Conger’s third win of the season, it was the first time the Knights led at halftime.

In the opener against Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman, Alden-Conger trailed by seven points at halftime before outscoring the Mustangs 45-14 in the second half. On Saturday, the Knights trailed by five points at halftime but came back to beat Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 51-50.

However, Alden-Conger dominated Schaeffer Academy from start to finish. The Knights led by 14 points at halftime and outscored the Lions by 15 points in the second half. Alden-Conger built and maintained its lead by minimizing mistakes and taking high-percentage shots.

“We ran our set plays, and most of them were layups,” Hansen said. “That was nice to see.”

Eli Hallman was two assists shy of a triple-double. He led the Knights with 25 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block.

“He had a wonderful night,” Hansen said about Hallman. “That’s his second 25-point game.”

Hallman was one of four players to score in double figures and one of two players to have a double-double.

Jordan Hallman added 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. Colton Opsahl had 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal, and Jacob Wallin had 10 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.

“That’s balanced, and that’s what we expect this year,” Hansen said. “Anyone can score.”

Along with Wallin, Dillan Lein contributed valuable minutes in the post with nine points, seven rebounds and an assist.

“Dillan coming off the bench as a sophomore and rebounding was big,” Hansen said. “He’s just a ball-smart kid.”

Brady Neel added seven points and two rebounds, and Kaleb Bendickson scored two points.

The game was Schaeffer Academy’s season opener.

Next, Alden-Conger will play the Minnesota Academy for the Deaf in the Trojans’ season opener Friday at 4 p.m. at the Cleveland tournament.