Wingers top Tigers

Published 9:33 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kole Smith of Albert Lea drives to the basket Tuesday at home against Red Wing. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Kole Smith of Albert Lea drives to the basket Tuesday at home against Red Wing. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

On paper, the Albert Lea basketball team overachieved Tuesday at home against Red Wing.

The Tigers headed into the game with four losses, each by 20 or more points. The Wingers brought a 4-0 record into the game, including a 79-57 win over Northfield, a team that beat Albert Lea by 32.

However, the Tigers played with poise in the first half and built a 33-26 halftime lead.

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“The first half was the best half that we’ve played,” said Albert Lea coach Lucas Kreuscher. “It was just outstanding with shot selection, and we told them, ‘This is the most patient we’ve been, and this is the most points we’ve scored in a half. It all goes together.’”

In the second half, a 15-0 Red Wing run propelled the Wingers to a 67-56 win.

It was Red Wing’s closest game of the season. Before Tuesday, the Wingers’ closest game was a 21-point home victory over Faribault on Nov. 25.

Dedoch Chan led the Tigers’ scoring attack with 14 points, five rebounds and two assists. Jake Kilby grabbed a team-high six rebounds to go with 10 points, and Jake Thompson added nine points.

Also scoring five-or-more points for the Tigers were Zach Romer, Mal Pine, Kole Smith and Jack Buendorf.

“It was coming from everywhere,” Kreuscher said of the first-half scoring barrage. “We were flying all over the place, and I thought we played great half-court offense and half-court defense.”

Smith said communication on defense was important.

“We’ve been trying to talk as much as we can on the court,” he said. “I feel like we’re coming together as a team and really working on what coach is telling us.”

Despite the loss, Kreuscher said the performance was encouraging because his team took a step forward and showed improvement.

The mood in the locker room was positive as well.

“I think we can really start winning some games,” said Kilby. “Now, I’m excited to see what we can do against Faribault.”

Next, the Tigers (0-5 overall) will play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Faribault (2-2 overall). After starting 0-2, the Falcons are coming off of a 38-35 overtime win against Austin and a 50-37 win against Rochester Century.

Last season, Albert Lea swept the regular-season series with Faribault 60-49 and 56-54. The Tigers have won seven consecutive meetings against the Falcons, dating back to Jan. 7, 2011.