Wingers end Tigers’ season

Published 10:53 pm Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Albert Lea's Dedoch Chan drives to the basket against Red Wing in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals Wednesday at Sonju Gymnasium in Red Wing. — Kyle Stevens/Republican Eagle

Albert Lea’s Dedoch Chan drives to the basket against Red Wing in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals Wednesday at Sonju Gymnasium in Red Wing. — Kyle Stevens/Republican Eagle

RED WING — When the buzzer sounded at halftime, the winless Albert Lea boys’ basketball team had the No. 5 team in the Class AAA polls on its heels.

“I really liked how we started defensively,” said Tigers coach Lucas Kreuscher. “On three of their first four possessions we forced turnovers, and we were patient on offense.”

Red Wing clung to a 30-27 lead at halftime, but a 13-minute second-half scoring drought doomed the Tigers to a 53-34 loss Wednesday in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals at Red Wing.

Email newsletter signup

Sophomore Dedoch Chan led Albert Lea with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Jake Thompson added seven points, and Jake Kilby produced six points and a team-high three steals.

All three players will return next season as Thompson and Kilby are juniors.

“A lot of guys got a lot of experience, and now we need to work our tails off in the offseason,” Kreuscher said. “You don’t just get better by being a year older.”

The Tigers had two seniors who played their final high school game: Kole Smith and Tyler Anderson.

“We couldn’t ask for two better teammates,” Kreuscher said. “Kole constantly brings energy to the team, and Tyler was easily our most improved player.”

Albert Lea (0-27, 0-22 Big Nine) was unable to notch a victory this season and struggled to post wins the most since going 1-25 in 2007-08 and 1-26 in 2008-09.

“It was a tough season as far as wins,” Kreuscher said. “It is what it is. We talked about it, and we have a lot of guys coming back.”

Kreuscher took over the program after the back-to-back one-win seasons and had the Tigers on an upward trajectory with four wins in 2009-10, six in 2010-11, eight in 2011-12, and 12 in 2012-13, the year he was the Tribune’s All-Area boys’ basketball Coach of the Year.

Last season, the Tigers posted a 6-21 record after guard Tyler Vandenheuvel missed the majority of the season with a knee injury.

“As coaches, we need to keep looking at where we can improve,” Kreuscher said. “We need to take why we’re in this spot and learn from it.”

Overall team strength, work in the weight room and making strides offensively are aspects Kreuscher said he is aiming to improve for next season.

“The opportunities are there, and the gym’s open four nights a week,” Kreuscher said. “We just need to make the most of it.”

Red Wing has eliminated Albert Lea from the section quarterfinals the last three seasons.

Red Wing (21-6, 17-5 Big Nine) advanced to play Winona (9-18, 6-16 Big Nine) in the section semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Winona, the No. 5 seed, upset No. 4-seed Faribault (11-16, 7-15) 59-44 Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

The other semifinal matchup will feature No. 2-seed New Prague (18-8, 8-2 Wright County) and No. 6-seed Kasson-Mantorville (15-12, 10-6).

New Prague is ranked No. 10 in the Class AAA polls and edged No. 7-seed Stewartville (13-12, 10-6 Hiawatha Valley Gold) 68-63 Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

Kasson-Mantorville upset No. 3-seed Austin (14-13, 13-9 Big Nine) 66-40 Wednesday in the quarterfinals.