Tigers finish year at .500
It was a roller coaster ride for the Rush City boys basketball team, which closed its season with a three-point loss at Moose Lake-Willow River in late February.
The Tigers started its 2014-15 season with three wins in their first four games, including two Great River Conference opponents, but hit a rough patch soon after. Rush City lost six of its next seven matchups, shaking the squad’s confidence a bit, according to head coach Jeremy Albright.
“It was frustrating,” Albright said. “We had a lot of tight games not go our way.”
Five of Rush City’s 11 losses this season were one-possession games, meaning a deficit of three or less points. Two more of the Tiger’s losses were two-possession.
Rush City’s kryptonite this season was conference opponents Pine City and Hinckley-Finlayson.
During their first matchup against Pine City at home in mid-December, the Tigers lost in overtime. When the neighbors met up again at Pine City in late January, the Dragons lost by just three points.
It was a similar story with Hinckley-Finlayson, with a one-point loss to the Eagles on the road in early January and a three-point loss at home one month later.
When the sixth-seeded Tigers drew third-seeded Moose Lake-Willow River in the first round of the Section 7AA tournament, it was déjà vu.
In early December, Rush City fell by seven points to Moose Lake-Willow River.
The Tigers and Rebels battled it out in the section matchup, with the Tigers trailing by just four points at halftime. Albright said the battle continued after the break, but ML-WR pulled out a 63-60 win to move on in section play.
“It was back and forth in the second half, and if the game had lasted a couple minutes longer, we could have won. We were pretty evenly matched, so it was disappointing to go out that way,” Albright said. “But the kids worked hard, and I can’t fault their effort.”
The Rebels lost in the next round to eventual section champions, Esko, 54-33.
Leading the Tigers this season was senior Dylan Fessenden, who averaged 17.7 points per game and 111 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. Fessenden was also second on the team in assists (44) and third on the squad in steals with 35.
Senior Zach Melin led the Tigers in assists at 113 and blocks (8), was second on the team in points per game (11.4) and in steals with 58.
Sophomore Tyler Oscarson was another strong weapon this winter with 8.8 points per game, 78 rebounds, 62 steals and 44 assists.
Overall, Rush City finished 2014-15 at 11-11 while going 10-6 in the conference and 2-5 against section opponents.
Due to section realignment, Rush City will be moving from Section 7AA to Section 5AA next season.