The Rush City boys basketball team defeated conference rivals Onamia and Aitkin last week.
The team first traveled to Onamia and tamed the Panthers 59-41.
“Onamia has been having a better year than compared to the recent past, so even though we were fortunate enough to have already beaten them twice, we figured it would be tough, especially at their place,” said coach Jeremy Albright.
“We dealt with some foul trouble in the first half. I think we had five guys with two fouls each. But I was proud of the kids for playing through that. No one ended up fouling out.
“Onamia has some taller senior posts that have been giving a lot of teams trouble, so we ended up going with a bigger lineup in the second half to counter that height.
“We were up by seven at halftime and were able to pull away in the second half with some timely buckets and good defense.
“I thought Matt Mallinger played a good overall game for us. He had a lot of minutes, especially with some of our guys in foul trouble in the first half.”
Last Friday, in a buzzer beater, the Tigers hosted and plucked the Gobblers 53-51.
“We had beaten Aitkin up at their place earlier in the year in a weird game by three, so we figured it would be a battle again this time, and it was,” said Albright, continuing:
“We were up by 11 at halftime, but I don’t know if any of us felt really safe with that lead. You kind of had the feeling that they would go on a run in the second half, and they did.
“The game ended up tied with a little over a minute left to play. Aitkin had the ball and I was assuming they would maybe hold for a last second shot. Alex Enns came up with a big steal and we went down to the other end. They ended up fouling us going for a ball with about 25 seconds left. Unfortunately, we missed the front end of a one-and-one, and they got the rebound.
“They took an off-balance shot with about five seconds left. We tipped the rebound out to Alex Enns, who passed it ahead to Brandon Koehnle. Brandon made a layup at the buzzer for the game winning shot.
“I thought we showed a lot of poise in the last part of that game. We’ve been in quite a few of these battles this year, and I think the experience from those games showed big time at the end of this one.
“It was our annual Senior Night, so a big thanks to the following seniors: Jenny Tryon (stats), Max Maher, Jesse Rasmussen, Dalton Folkema, Alex Enns, Matt Mallinger and Garret Pearson. Their contributions to the basketball program will always be remembered!”
The Rush City boys basketball team is third in the Great River Conference with a 11-5 conference and 13-8 overall record. The Tigers will host the Mora Mustangs (18-5) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, before beginning Section 7AA playoffs at the home of the high seed at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 6.