Tigers fall to Panthers in OT

Published 1:22 am Friday, February 5, 2016

Albert Lea's Denzel Acha shoots during Thursday's game against Rochester Century at Albert Lea High School. - Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea’s Denzel Acha shoots during Thursday’s game against Rochester Century at Albert Lea High School. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

A game that came down to the very last seconds kept its players and their audience on their toes.

The Rochester Century boys’ basketball team defeated Albert Lea 65-62 with a buzzer-beating three-pointer in overtime Thursday at Albert Lea High School.

“I thought our kids played hard,” said Albert Lea coach Stan Thompson. “It was definitely the most physically-played game we’ve ever had.”

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The Tigers came out strong Thursday, leading the Panthers at halftime.

“We pushed Rochester into a lot of turnovers,” Stan Thompson said. “The pressure that we put on was fantastic.”

On top of a strong defense, the Tigers had three players who scored in double digits.

Senior guard Jake Thompson had a double double and led Albert Lea with 21 points and 10 rebounds, as well as four assists and six steals.

Senior forward Jake Kilby scored 15 points while contributing four rebounds, an assist and four steals.

Senior Denzel Acha just missed having a double double. The center scored 10 points and had nine rebounds, as well as an assist and a steal.

Clutch free throws were made by Jake Thompson, Kilby and Andy Woitas throughout the night to keep the game close.

The second  half stayed relatively close with the Tigers leading by at least a few points for most of it. Nearing the end of regulation with the Tigers up by three, the Panthers sunk a three at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

“The end of regulation was amazing,” Stan Thompson said.

The game went into overtime tied at 56, and looked like it might continue into double overtime until Rochester Century sunk yet another buzzer beater for three to edge out the win.

“We lost as a team,” Stan Thompson said. “It definitely wasn’t from a lack of effort.”

Thursday was also parents’ night, and Stan Thompson said the crowd kept up the support it has given the team throughout the season.

“The crowd was absolutely insane tonight — electric,” he said. “The support of the fans and the student section is pretty special. It’s more than just the team wanting the win — the community wants it for them.”

Next, Albert Lea (1-19 overall, 0-17 Big Nine Conference) will play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Faribault (10-10, 7-9). The Tigers previously lost to the Falcons 57-50 on Dec. 10.

As his team moves on to their next game, Stan Thompson was confident his players would get past Thursday’s upset.

“We’ll bounce back. They always do,” he said. “They never quit, they just keep battling.”

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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