Tigers fall to the Packers, but not without a fight
Published 1:50 pm Saturday, January 9, 2016
‘We just don’t quit’
In sports, stats and scores don’t always reflect a team’s attitude or level of effort. If they did, the Tigers’ stats would be off the charts.
The Austin boys’ basketball team (10-3 overall, 8-2 Big Nine Conference) defeated Albert Lea (0-12, 0-10) 78-63 Friday at Packer Gym.
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The conference matchup came a day after what Albert Lea coach Stan Thompson called a “heartbreaker” of a loss to Stewartville, in which Albert Lea lost 46-44 in a controversial buzzer beater that has been under some debate. Thompson said beforehand he wasn’t sure what to expect from his players morale-wise.
He was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.
“They played their hearts out,” he said. “They did exactly what they’ve done every game.”
Against a team that Thompson said he considers to be one of the best in the state, the Tigers only trailed by eight points at halftime.
“We were with them the whole first half,” he said. “They gave 100 percent and kept coming back. … It wasn’t a blowout — we were there.”
Senior forward Jake Kilby led Albert Lea’s offense with 17 points. Senior guard Jake Thompson contributed 11 points, while junior forward Jack Buendorf scored 12 points.
“(Buendorf) played his guts out,” Thompson said.
Thompson also highlighted Denzel Acha’s performance Friday night, saying he “hustled and played really well.” The senior center had eight points, eight rebounds, an assist and two steals.
The entire team had something to be proud of Friday, Thompson said.
“Everybody on the team gave 100 percent,” he said. “If they were on the court, they gave everything they could give.”
He recalled sitting on the bench at one point, looking at his assistant caches, and saying “We just don’t quit.”
“I was really proud of the way they fought back after the heartbreak,” Thompson said. “It really helped me to see that they’re never going to quit.”
Next, the Tigers will play the Winhawks at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Winona in another Big Nine Conference game. Winona (2-11, 2-8) is coming off of a 63-58 loss Friday at Northfield. Northfield (8-6, 5-5 Big Nine) previously defeated Albert Lea 77-59 Dec. 1.