Alex girls pass first solid test against Tech
The Alexandria girls’ basketball team passed its first big test of the season on Friday night in beating St. Cloud Tech 62-51 in the home opener.
The Cardinals' first three opponents this season have a combined 4-15 record. Alexandria had no trouble with them, winning by a combined 134 points.
They knew a 4-1 Tigers team would prove to be a better challenge. Tech led by nine in the first half before eight straight points from Alexandria’s Brooke Heggie got the Cardinals back in the game. Senior guard Amanda Christianson came alive about that time as she scored nine quick points and helped Alexandria take a 30-24 lead into the break that it never relinquished.
“At first we were just panicking, I guess,” Christianson said. “We settled down and played our game. We just dug into our defense and tried to do whatever we could to keep them from scoring. We were both undefeated in the conference, and we knew it was going to be a tough game so we came out with whatever we could.”
Christianson finished with a game-high 22 points, while Heggie finished with 16 after tallying 20 points in a win over Sauk Rapids-Rice on Tuesday night. At 6’2”, the transfer from Crookston had her way in the post when she could stay on the court while battling through foul trouble. Heggie is an added dimension to an already good team, and she’s getting more comfortable every time out.
“The coaches are amazing,” Heggie said. “The community is great. I’m having a lot of fun.”
The Cardinals were able to hold the Tigers at an arm’s length throughout the second half. Tech tried to make a run, but Alexandria did a good job defensively on the Tigers’ star guard Kaila Burroughs, who has signed a letter of intent to play at the Division I level next year for the University of Denver. Burroughs had 10 points in the game.
“We knew it was going to be a good test for us,” Alexandria head coach Wendy Kohler said of the Tigers. “We knew they defend the basketball really hard and that Burroughs was going to be a handful. I thought that it just took us a while to get used to squaring up with someone in our face and not being able to do what we wanted to do…to have basically a 20-point swing of being down by almost 10 and winning by , I was proud of the girls. Once we settled in and got true to our game, I thought we did a lot of nice things.”
It’s a group that Kohler feels will only get better as the season progresses. Heggie, a junior, is still getting used to playing in a new up-tempo system. Other regulars in the rotation are also getting used to playing in an expanded role.
The Cardinals are already ranked third in the Class AAA polls. They passed their first big test against the Tigers to stay unbeaten at 4-0 and 2-0 in the CLC. It’s a solid win to build on for an Alexandria team that feels it has the potential to put together a special season.
“We have a high ceiling,” Kohler said. “Our ceiling is really high and that’s the exciting thing. I think this team is only going to get better and better as everybody settles in. I think we have all the pieces, and like I said, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface in my opinion. That’s a really exciting challenge to our coaching staff.”