Austin girls drop finale
ALBERT LEA — Plagued by their inability to stop the post play of the Albert Lea Tigers, the Austin girls finished the regular season with a 77-72 loss Friday night.
After falling behind 8-0 in the opening minutes of this Big Nine Conference basketball game, the visiting Austin Packers rallied to tie the game at halftime. The same scenario would repeat itself in the second half, but this time the rally fell short in the road loss.
"I knew on their senior night that the Albert Lea girls would be fired up and we didn't respond," Austin coach Gary Peterson said. "It comes down to which team plays with more intensity. They wanted it more and got the win."
Babaye Oja led the Packers with 25 points, but it wasn't enough to stave off defeat. Jenna Svoboda added 17 points and 13 rebounds as the Packers wrapped up the regular season with six losses in their last seven games.
Albert Lea (5-19) was led by Alyssa Sager with a game-high 28 points and 27 rebounds. This effort allowed the Tigers to gain a split of the season series with the Packers as each team won on its home floor.
"Sager just took it to us inside, and I can't remember the last time anybody had 27 rebounds against us," Peterson said. "We didn't block her out and didn't get to the boards."
Despite their problems containing the inside game of the Tigers, the Packers did rally to make it close in the final minutes. In the end, the Packers couldn't hit free throws. They missed 21 free throw attempts and ended the regular season on a skid.
"We made a late run, but the damage had been done," Peterson concluded. "We only shot 38 percent from the free throw line and that's a big statistic in a close loss. We need to find a way to get the extra effort. A new season starts next week."
Austin finished the regular season with a 9-15 overall record, 7-11 in the Big Nine. The Packers will be seeded in the lower half of the upcoming Section 1AAA tournament and will be on the road for the opener Wednesday night.
Albert Lea 77, Austin 72
Babaye Oja 25, Jenna Svoboda 17, Meredith Molhusen 7, Taylor Lady 7, Stephanie Justice 6, Mary Kate Barinka 4, Sophia Hebrink 4, Danielle Tschann 2.
ALBERT LEA (77)
Alyssa Sager 28, Skyler Anderson 13, Taylor Friehl 11, Emily Stoneking 8, Ashley Tewes 7, Bryn Woodside 4, Whitney Rasmussen 3, McKenzie Zuniga 3.
Halftime:Austin 31, AL 31.
Free throws:Austin 13-34, AL 27-47.
Three-point goals:AUS 5 (Oja 1, Svoboda 1, Molhusen 1, Lady 1, Justice 1). AL 4 (Friehl 3, Rasmussen 1).