Tigers’ halftime lead doesn’t hold up

Published 10:49 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Jake Kilby of Albert Lea shoots over Rochester Mayo's Mazin Hammadelniel Tuesday at Albert Lea. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Jake Kilby of Albert Lea shoots over Rochester Mayo’s Mazin Hammadelniel Tuesday at Albert Lea. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea shows excitement on bench but falls to Rochester Mayo in opener

Energy wasn’t confined to the court in the Albert Lea basketball team’s home opener.

The Tigers’ bench was raucous, cheering and waving Pittsburgh Steelers-esque Terrible Towels to show support and spur Albert Lea to a two-point halftime lead.

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“They were having a great time, and they have a role,” said Tigers coach Stan Thompson. “They know it. That’s what we’re doing. We’re going to have fun. It helps the guys on the court. It helped the crowd. I mean, it was loud in there.”

Albert Lea (0-1, 0-1 Big Nine) was led offensively by the Jakes — Jake Thompson and Jake Kilby — who combined for 47 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and seven steals, but Rochester Mayo (1-2, 1-1 Big Nine) overcame its halftime deficit Tuesday with four second-half 3-pointers by Lucas Ellerbusch to defeat the Tigers 79-66 at Albert Lea.

To start the second half, Kilby turned a steal into a transition layup to extend the Tigers’ lead to four points, 37-33. However, that was Albert Lea’s largest second-half lead.

With eight minutes left in regulation, Mayo took a 60-50 lead. The Tigers cut their deficit to five points at the five-minute mark when Jared Schmidt scored on a put-back.

A 3-pointer by Ellerbusch boosted the Spartans’ advantage to eight points with 3:38 left in the game to help seal Rochester Mayo’s first win of the season. The Spartans came into the game with a 69-46 home loss Thursday against Farmington and an 84-76 loss Saturday at Northfield.

Although Albert Lea lost its leading scorer — Dedoch Chan, who transferred to Rochester John Marshall — from last year’s 0-27 team, Stan Thompson said the team gained three seniors who did not play last year and are all 6-foot-2-inches tall or taller: Nate Nelson, Denzel Acha and Jackson Collier.

Nelson scored six points and grabbed four rebounds, Acha added four points and six boards and Collier had an assist.

“The kids wanted them out, and I’ve coached Nate and Jackson since they were little,” Stan Thompson said.

Stan Thompson was joined on the sideline by JV coach Tyler Vandenheuvel and ninth-grade coach Torian Wolf.

After graduating from Albert Lea High School in 2014, Vandenheuvel said he played basketball at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul on the JV team for a year and returned to Albert Lea to be a worship leader at Hope Church.

“Stan called me up to help coach, and I was really excited to get back at it,” Vandenheuvel said.

Next, Albert Lea will play at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Northfield (2-0, 2-0 Big Nine). After beating Mayo in its season opener, Northfield won 68-54 Tuesday at Mankato West.