Rockets top Tigers

Published 1:40 am Friday, December 5, 2014

Rachel Rehnelt of Albert Lea shoots on Tuesday over a Rochester John Marshall defender. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Rachel Rehnelt of Albert Lea shoots on Thursday over a Rochester John Marshall defender. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

A 20-3 run by Rochester John Marshall in the last five minutes of the first half put the Albert Lea girls’ basketball team in a deep hole.

Although they outscored the Rockets 26-22 in the second half, the Tigers lost 63-50 Thursday in their home opener.

Early in the first half, the Albert Lea received scoring contributions throughout the lineup to keep the game close. A 3-pointer by Megan Kortan tied the game at 21.

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However, within the span of two minutes, the Rockets built a double-digit lead behind 6-foot-1-inch junior center Jamie Ruden. Ruden is ranked No. 10 in the country by ESPN’s scouting service and has verbally committed to Arizona State.

“We played well at the beginning of the first half, and we were more patient and aggressive in the second half,” said Albert Lea coach Lindsey Hugstad-Vaa. “I was happy with their effort.”

Kortan was two rebounds shy of a double-double. She posted 17 points, eight rebounds, five steals and five assists. Each stat was a team high.

Katie Rasmussen added 15 points, two assists and a steal. Hugstad-Vaa said the scoring total was Rasmussen’s career high.

Francesca Eckstrom had eight points and five rebounds, and Rachel Rehnelt had seven points, four assists and four rebounds.

The Tigers (0-2 overall, 0-2 Big Nine Conference) lost their season opener 78-48 on Tuesday at Northfield.

“It was a huge improvement from Tuesday,” Hugstad-Vaa said. “They’re doing a better job of sharing the ball. They were taking better shots. Once we get into a groove it’ll be smoother.”

The closest game in the last three years between the Rockets and Tigers was a 63-62 win by Rochester John Marshall on Dec. 19, 2013 at Albert Lea.

Next, Albert Lea will host Kasson-Mantorville at 6 p.m. Saturday.