Alex girls' basketball: Redbirds top Willmar
The Cardinal girls proved once again last Friday night that when they can establish the pace they want, there are very few teams that can keep up.
Willmar found that out in a hurry as Alexandria ran up and down the court on its way to a 70-49 win. The visiting Cardinals came into the game winners in six of their last seven. Included in that was a win over fourth-ranked Sartell-St. Stephen on January 29.
They led just once in this one. That came early after they hit three threes to take a 9-8 lead. Alexandria ran all over them from there, sprinting out to a 43-29 lead by the break and never looking back.
"We came out with a lot of confidence," senior guard Jolyn Warnes said. "I think that kind of shattered their confidence when we came out really strong. We heard that they beat Sartell and that gave us energy. We were just like, "Yeah, we have to beat this team."
Alexandria made it look easy by setting the tone early. Willmar tried some full court pressure, but Cara Wood and the rest of the Cardinal guards handled that with ease. When Willmar missed or turned the ball over, Alexandria was quick to get the ball up the court and into the hands of its playmakers.
"Our main game is our fast break," Warnes said. "If we go out there and do that, then I feel like no team can stop us if our shots drop. It's super important, that's our game."
Lauren Trumm takes full advantage of that tempo. She got to the basket at will, especially in the first half when she scored 18 of her game-high 24 points. When she was not scoring, her older sister was. Sam Trumm had 12 in the first half and 18 in the game. It was the latest in a long list of times that the Trumm sisters have caused opposing teams fits this season.
"I love it," Sam said of the opportunity to play with Lauren. "I don't think I could have asked for a [better] senior year, playing with my sister and my friends. We're a very unselfish team. We want the best for everybody, and I think that's why we're doing so well is that we can play together."
That unselfishness leads to a lot of opportunities for everyone on the court. Alexandria had 10 different players score against Willmar and five pour in at least six points. Wood finished with six points and seven assists. Warnes had six and Alli Haar added six points and 11 rebounds.
Alexandria used that depth to put to bed any thoughts of a Willmar comeback in the second half. The home Cardinals came out of the break with an 11-2 run to stretch their lead to 54-31. They never let that lead slip below 20 the rest of the way.
"We're extremely proud as a team of how we played," Sam Trumm said. "We've been preparing extremely hard since our losses, working really hard to strengthen ourselves to make us a more all-around team. I really think that tonight, we showed what we're capable of, and we're really proud of that."
The win was Alexandria's sixth straight after dropping its only two games to Fergus Falls and Sartell-St. Stephen by a combined six points. Despite those losses, the Cardinals are still right in the thick of things in the Central Lakes Conference title race.
Fergus Falls is alone at the top of the league with a 13-1 record. The Otters handed Sartell its second loss in conference play last Friday night with a 66-58 win on their home court.
At 12-2, Alexandria still controls its own destiny for at least a share of the title. The Cardinals have four games left in the CLC, including one at Fergus Falls on February 18 and at home against Sartell on the 24th to end the regular season.
Both those games will likely end up determining not only a conference title but section seeding. If that's the case, Alexandria feels it is ready for the challenge.
"I definitely think so," Trumm said. "We know that we have to take one game at a time. We prepare for every team, make sure we're ready and play hard to get the win. We know that we'll have some tougher games coming up here, but I really feel like we've improved and fixed a lot of things that we didn't [do as well] as we could have at the beginning."
WILLMAR 29 20 - 49
ALEXANDRIA 43 27 - 70
ALEXANDRIA - L. Trumm - 24 points, 6 steals; S. Trumm - 18 points; Wood - 6 points, 7 assists; Haar - 6 points, 11 rebounds; Warnes - 6 points; Amanda Christianson - 2 points; Bri Ebert - 2 points; Emily Peck - 2 points; Lauren Johnson - 2 points; Whitney Gesell - 1 point