Card girls' basketball: No. 9 Alexandria upends Sartell
The Cardinal girls got a win they needed for their confidence as much as they needed it for section-seeding implications last Thursday night.
Alexandria had lost just three games going into its game against Sartell-St. Stephen, but all three of those had come against the top teams in the Section 8AAA field. The Cardinals reversed those fortunes on their home court as they found a way to get a 43-37 win in the regular-season finale.
"It was so important," junior guard Cara Wood said. "We're probably going to be playing them [Saturday] to go to the section finals, and just to know we beat them once rather than losing to them twice is just amazing. It improves our confidence so much. We know that we can do it. We always knew it, but finally to get it done is amazing."
The Cardinals had to grind this one out to pick up the win. Both teams struggled with turnovers, and Alexandria missed a number of shots in the lane that could have broken things open in the second half.
The Cardinals felt that finding a way to beat the Sabres despite not playing their best game could benefit them during the playoffs. This group knows it can get up and down the court to pick up wins by double digits against a lot of opponents. Last Thursday, they found a way to win a game when those points were hard to come by.
"One thing [head coach Wendy] Kohler has really been telling us is the games that we do win by a lot, that doesn't really define what kind of team we are," senior Sam Trumm said. "It's these tough games, these close games. If we can stay poised, and we can stay together, that's what's really going to define what kind of team we are."
Alexandria has been a team that relies on its defense all season. That was definitely the case against the Sabres. The Cardinals held Sartell to just five points through the first 12 minutes of the second half. They made a run to get it within six points with 17.4 seconds left by forcing some turnovers with their press in the final minutes. By that time it was too late as Joie Warnes hit two free throws in the closing seconds to secure the win.
The Cardinals kept Sartell's top three players from having a huge impact on the game. The Sabres' 6'5" junior, Abigail Whitney, had limited touches and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Senior Morgan Haider finished with 10 points, while standout guard Haley Guetter was held to just two.
"Kohler did an amazing job of letting us know which girls can do what," Wood said. "We were aware of what they can do. [Whitney] in the post, Sam did an amazing job on her. And the guards [were aware] of Guetter trying to get to her left hand, and Haider, not letting her drive. It was just really a team win."
Alexandria countered with two players in double figures. Trumm led the way with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Alli Haar finished with 11 points and dominated the glass with 20 rebounds. Warnes also chipped in nine points. That was enough to wrap up their 21st win of the season.
Alexandria will now turn its attention toward what should be an exciting section tournament. The Cardinals opened up play last night, Tuesday, as the No. 2 seed against Rocori. A win and they would play the winner of Sartell versus Sauk Rapids-Rice this Saturday afternoon at St. Cloud State University with a 2:45 tip-off.
Alexandria could have to go through both Fergus Falls and the Sabres to earn a state tournament bid. If that's the case, this team says its ready for the challenge.
"I think we'll be playing some good teams," Trumm said. "And that's what we want. We need to be pushed. We need to make sure we are keeping our energy, and the way to do that is to play tougher teams. We know that to get first in the conference would be awesome, but we would rather be getting first in the section."
ALEXANDRIA 28 15 - 43
SARTELL 19 18 - 37
ALEXANDRIA - S. Trumm - 13 points, 14 rebounds; Haar - 11 points, 20 rebounds; Warnes - 9 points; Wood - 3 points, 6 assists; Whitney Gesell - 2 points; Lauren Trumm - 4 points, 5 steals
SARTELL - Rachel Corcoran - 2 points; Haider - 10 points; Guetter - 2 points; Ashton Haider - 3 points; Allie Rengel - 7 points, 11 rebounds; Whitney - 13 points, 9 rebounds