Tigers finish Aitkin in closing seconds

Last Friday in the last seconds of a close, hard fought game the Tiger boys basketball team downed the Aitkin Gobblers 48-45.

“We made our annual long trek up north to play Aitkin,” said coach Jeremy Albright. “I think in the past couple of years the bus ride must affect our shooting percentage (28 percent overall, 19 percent in the second half). Too bad, we have to realize that it doesn’t matter if we are traveling five minutes or two hours, we need to get the job done.”

Albright added:

“We got off to an early lead, but due to several factors, Aitkin was able to come back and get within four at halftime. The second half was back and forth. We really struggled with some foul trouble throughout the game. Several starters had to sit extended periods in the second half with fouls.

“With about four minutes left, both Garret Pearson and Matt Mallinger fouled out in about a 30 second window. We knew that if we were going to come out of that gym with a win we would need to look to others to step up, and they did.

“The game was tied with 10 seconds left. We took a timeout and drew up a play. Brandon Koehnle got fouled shooting a three with 1.2 seconds left. He then made all three free throws to seal the victory. I think it was good for our team to prove that we can win when two of our best players are out of the game.

“Although it doesn’t show in the boxscore, Dalton Folkema really played well for us. He stepped up and showed some senior leadership numerous times throughout the game. He is a player that seems to have accepted his role on the team and is filling it in the best way possible.”

The Rush City boys basketball team is fourth in the Great River Conference and has a 3-2 conference and 4-4 overall record. The Tigers will travel to Isle to face the Huskies at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, before traveling to Moose Lake to face the Moose Lake-Willow River Rebels at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15.

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