Some people might remember the old video game “NBA Jam.” In that game, a player is “on fire” if he sinks three consecutive buckets. The Rush City boys basketball team was more than on fire with wins recently, notching four consecutive victories.
The Tigers went up against five teams in the past two weeks, and after losing in the first game, the team went on a winning streak.
On Feb. 4, the team traveled to Isle to make up a game previously postponed due to poor weather, and came home with a 61-59 loss.
“Isle is always an interesting place to play,” coach Jeremy Albright said. “We’ve had good and bad games up there. This one turned out to be one of the bad ones. We had many mental breakdowns on defense.”
Albright lauded his team for battling back.
“I was proud of the kids for coming back from a deficit in the second half,” he said. “We actually had a lead late in the game. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to come out on top.”
The team then traveled to Pine City Feb. 5, where it slayed the Dragons 51-40.
“Our first half was not a good one,” Albright said. “We talked before the game about the fact that if you let them shoot threes they will have a chance. Well, we let them make six of them in the first half alone to put us down by one going into halftime.”
Making changes was the key to a strong second half.
“We made some adjustments at the half and our defense tightened up,” Albright said. “For about the first 12:30 of the second half, we held them to two points. Our kids did a great job of executing in the second half defensively.”
Bench play was a contributing factor in the win.
“Jesse Rasmussen had good second half for us off the bench,” Albright said. “Although we could have played better, there is nothing better than a win on the road in both the conference and the section.”
The team hosted and defeated St. John’s Prep 48-46 Feb. 8 in a come-from-behind game.
“We continued the theme of the week—bad first halves,” Albright said.
But like the other games, the second half was a gem.
“In the second half, we were still stuck in first gear,” Albright said. “We ended up down by as much as 17 points. Luckily, we were able to shake off the grogginess and start a comeback.”
We finished the game on a 23-4 run to end up winning by two.”
On Feb. 12, the Tigers traveled to East Central and downed the Eagles 57-35
“We came out against East Central with a lot of intensity and defensive pressure,” Albright said.
The team had a big lead at halftime, but let East Central claw its way back into the game.
“We were up 39-15 at halftime, but even the last part of the first half we started to lose some of our intensity,” Albright said. “We have to learn to battle through those lulls.”
Missing their floor general was one of the reasons the coach pointed to when explaining the lackluster second-half play.
“One obstacle we had to overcome was having to play without our usual point guard,” he said. “He had an injury and was unable to play in this game. We had others step up.”
He added, “We could have played better, but I told the kids that if you can hold a varsity team to 35 points that’s something you can be proud of.”
Last Friday, the team hosted Isle and this time beat the Huskies 54-50.
“We had played at Isle the previous week and lost by two, so I know that was fresh on our minds,” Albright said. “I don’t know if you will find two more even teams than Rush City and Isle. Both teams’ strengths and weaknesses even out. I think if we played 10 games we would come close to splitting them.”
The Rush City boys basketball team is fourth in the Great River Conference and has a 9-5 conference and 11-8 overall record. The Tigers travel to Onamia to face the Panthers (12-9) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, before hosting the Aitkin Gobblers (7-13) at 7:30 p.m. Senior Night Friday, Feb. 22.