RC boys fall to Aitkin at home

Tigers look to improve on defense

The Rush City boys basketball team came back from an 11-day break between games to host Aitkin (5-6) last Friday and came up just short in the Great River Conference matchup.

The Tigers struggled in the first half and trailed 35-23 at the break, but came back to outscore the Gobblers 38-36 in the second half.

Unfortunately the effort wouldn’t be enough.

Rush City head coach Jeremy Albright said a frustrating aspect was his squad’s performance from the charity stripe. The Tigers went 10-23 in free throws.

“We played better than we had been playing, so that’s good,” Albright said. “We knew Aitkin was going to be physical and use their brawn so (we) attacked the basket and got to the free throw line. Honestly if we made those free throws, we would have won.”

The head coach said another area to focus on continues to be defense. Last season the Tigers allowed 58 points on average to opponents. So far this season, Rush City is giving up 67 points.

“Defensively we just didn’t play well,” Albright said. “About 75 percent of our practices are devoted to defense — I just don’t know what’s going on right now.”

Junior Dylan Fessenden led on the offensive end with 20 points and had five rebounds and three assists. Senior Brandon Koehnle recorded 16 points, while junior Zach Melin tallied 10 points, four steals and four assists. Senior Ryan Lind returned for his first game of the season following an ACL injury last June to put up nine points and six rebounds.

Albright said Lind’s presence already makes a big difference down low in the post, despite limited minutes until fully recovered.

“Offensively we have more of an inside game with him back, and with Aitkin having some big posts, it was nice to have him there,” Albright said. “He’s such a hard worker and it will be even nicer once he has his game legs under him.”

The Tigers are 2-6 overall and faced East Central on Tuesday night. Next, Rush City hosts Isle at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10.

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