Albert Lea beats Stewartville

Published 4:50 pm Saturday, January 3, 2015

Megan Kortan of Albert Lea drives to the basket Saturday against Stewartville's Hunter Miller at Albert Lea. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Megan Kortan of Albert Lea drives to the basket Saturday against Stewartville’s Hunter Miller at Albert Lea. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

A quiet first half morphed into an explosive second half for Megan Kortan.

Kortan scored 26 of her game-high 31 points in the second half and rounded out a double-double with 17 rebounds to lead the Albert Lea girls’ basketball team past Stewartville 64-51 Saturday at home.

“She played like a senior captain and just took charge,” said Albert Lea coach Lindsey Hugstad-Vaa about Kortan’s leadership. “She was rebounding, making good passes, scoring and talking.”

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At the end of the first half, Stewartville’s Hunter Miller led all scorers with 10 points, but she was held to two in the second half. Albert Lea was led at halftime by Quinn Petersen, who had seven points. She was scoreless in the second half but was one of three Albert Lea players to have 10-or-more rebounds.

At halftime, Albert Lea trailed 27-26.

“We had a slow start, and we started playing their game,” Hugstad-Vaa said. “In the second half, we said we needed to come out and not let them dictate the pace of the game.”

The Tigers did just that.

Kortan made the first shot of the second half and scored Albert Lea’s next 13 points — including three 3-pointers — to give her team an eight-point lead.

After a basket in the paint by Kathryn Flaherty, Kortan boosted Albert Lea to its first double-digit lead, 43-33, with about 13 minutes left in regulation on a pair of free throws.

Seven minutes later, Albert Lea kept its advantage at 10 points, 55-45, with a putback by Fran Eckstrom, who led the team’s interior scoring with 10 points.

Rachel Rehnelt showed versatility on the perimeter with six points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Alli Christenson scored four points; Katie Rasmussen and Flaherty had three each.

Both teams had 20 turnovers. Although Albert Lea faced a press, it wasn’t surprised.

“We knew they were going to press, so passing it up and trying to get layups is the best way to attack,” Hugstad-Vaa said. “It was good for the girls to see that.”

The mascot for both teams is the Tigers.

Stewartville fell to 1-8 with the loss.

Last year, Albert Lea beat Stewartville 67-51.

Next, Albert Lea (2-7 overall, 1-5 Big Nine Conference) will play at 7:30 p.m. at Owatonna (4-5 overall, 4-2 Big Nine Conference). Albert Lea is ninth in the 12-team conference standings, and Owatonna is fifth.

The Huskies are coming off a 59-48 loss Friday at Northfield but have won four of their last seven games after starting 0-2.