Hitting a hot streak

Junior Zach Melin releases the ball at the free-throw line. Melin recorded 10 points and seven assists against Aitkin. Photo supplied

Junior Zach Melin releases the ball at the free-throw line. Melin recorded 10 points and seven assists against Aitkin. Photo supplied

RC basketball boys win five in a row—

With five wins in a row under its belt, the Rush City boys basketball team comes into the home stretch of the season with a fury.

The Tigers traveled to Aitkin on Friday and pulled out a 56-53 victory after losing to the Gobblers earlier in January by double digits. This comes after a big victory at home Monday, Feb. 3, over Pine City after losing to the Dragons by 23 two weeks before.

Head coach Jeremy Albright said he saw a change in the squad after the win over Pine City, where two Tigers recorded double doubles: junior Dylan Fessenden and senior Ryan Lind.

“It was quite the turnaround from two weeks earlier at their gym,” Albright said. “We had lost by 23 up at their place. I knew that didn’t sit well with our kids, so I knew we would come out with intensity — especially playing a conference school that is also in our section. We got off to a good start and never really looked back — we were up 23 at halftime.”

Rush City maintained the energy in Friday’s game against Aitkin, despite a tough visitor’s atmosphere.

“Aitkin is always a tough place to play — it is almost a two-hour bus ride for us and their crowd gets into it,” Albright said, “I was proud of how our guys put that stuff aside and just played.”

After trailing by three at halftime, the Tigers came out to take a tentative lead in the second half, but the home team tied it up with 1:30 remaining in the Great River Conference matchup.

Junior Zach Melin drove to the basket with a minute remaining, made the layup and was fouled. Melin hit the free throw to put the Tigers up by three, 56-53. The visitors held off Aitkin for the win.

Albright attributes the change in play to Melin’s aggressive play on offense in the second half, Koehnle and ninth-grader Tyler Oscarson’s perimeter defense and solid contribution off the bench from juniors Eric Erdman, Kyle Nelson and Cole Anderson.

“I keep telling the kids — you have to go out there and bust your tail to compete,” Albright said. “These past few games are proof that if you do, good things will usually happen. We have a long way to go to get where we need to be, but winning two conference and section games like this in one week is a good start.”

Fessenden led the Tigers with 19 points and six rebounds, while Koehnle tallied 15 points, five rebounds and three steals. Melin recorded 10 points and seven assists. Lind added eight points and eight rebounds.

Rush City also traveled to Hinckley-Finlayson on Monday night, triumphing again in an overtime victory, 56-55. The Tigers fell to the Jaguars at home earlier this year, 70-56.

The Tigers are 8-10 overall and 7-6 in the GRC.

Rush City hosted East Central on Tuesday, and next travel to Isle for a 7:30 p.m. game.

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