Gallery: Tigers hold off Falcons

Published 10:04 pm Friday, December 12, 2014

Megan Kortan of Albert Lea drives to the basket Friday at home against Faribault. Kortan had 14 points in the Tigers' win. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Megan Kortan of Albert Lea drives to the basket Friday at home against Faribault. Kortan had 14 points in the Tigers’ win. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

After surviving a late comeback, the Albert Lea girls’ basketball team tallied its first victory of the season and pushed its winning streak over Faribault to 10 games.

The Tigers led by as many as 17 points at home on Friday and defeated the Falcons 51-47.

“I think we’re starting to get into the swing of things,” said Albert Lea senior forward Megan Kortan. “It’s realizing that we don’t have who we had last year, so everybody is stepping up to their new position. It’s fun playing with the new girls.”

Email newsletter signup

Albert Lea graduated a backcourt with two 1,000-point career scorers, so freshman Rachel Rehnelt and junior Katie Rasmussen picked up the slack along with Kortan.

Rehnelt led the Tigers with 16 points, Kortan had 14 and Rasmussen added nine.

The Tigers built their lead at the charity stripe late in the first half. Faribault was in the bonus but continued to foul.

“We got one-and-one’s with six minutes to go in the first half, so (head) coach Huggy (Lindsey-Hugstad-Vaa) said to take it to the hole,” Kortan said. “So we took it to the hole.”

In the first half, Albert Lea was 14-of-16 at the free-throw line, and Faribault was 2-of-5.

“Our girls did a good job of protecting the ball and finishing their free throws,” said Hugstad-Vaa. “That was huge.”

It turned out to be crucial in the game’s waning moments. Faribault came alive with a 47-30 deficit and about five minutes left in regulation. The Falcons ended the game on a 17-4 run, but Albert Lea hung on with two of their last four points on free throws by Rehnelt.

Hugstad-Vaa said the game gave her players experience playing with and keeping onto a lead.

“We didn’t take care of the ball as well as we could’ve, and we missed some layups, but we did a good job of holding them off,” she said. “The more you’re in that position, the more comfortable you feel.”

Hugstad-Vaa said she saw growth in her team’s vision on the court.

“We were better at moving the ball and seeing each other,” she said. “When we didn’t have set plays, we were flowing with the offense and talking to each other.”

Aside from Faribault, Albert Lea’s closest game was a 63-50 home loss against Rochester John Marshall.

Faribault fell to 0-4.

The Tigers (1-4 overall, 1-3 Big Nine Conference) will look to build on the Faribault win at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rochester Century (3-1 overall, 3-1 Big Nine Conference).

The Panthers are coming off a 58-56 overtime win Friday at Northfield. Their only loss was 65-52 in the season opener at Red Wing. Rochester Century defeated Faribault 62-53.