Section 8AAA boys' basketball: Fergus Falls halts Alexandria's run
The Alexandria boys had no answer for the inspired play of Fergus Falls' senior forward Mike Millard on Monday night as the Otters ended the Cardinals' season by taking a 70-60 game in the Section 8-3A semifinals.
Alexandria came into the game with high hopes after winning eight of its last nine games. It took just a few minutes for Millard and the Otters to dash those hopes as they jumped out to a 14-4 lead and kept the Cardinals at an arm's length the whole night.
Millard was instrumental to that as he finished with a game-high 29 points. He had 15 by the break to help Fergus Falls take a 32-22 lead into the half. Millard made a habit of catching the ball in the post and facing up before blowing by his defenders and finishing aggressively around the basket. He culminated his night with a one-handed dunk before letting out a scream in the closing minutes.
"He might have a quicker first step than me," Alexandria senior forward Logan Doyle said, "so that makes it a little bit harder. I have the size on him. I know he goes left all the time, but I guess he took it to me right away at the beginning. Then I was sitting out with six or seven minutes, and he scored a lot there, too. We just didn't have an answer for him tonight, unfortunately."
Doyle was forced to the bench with two fouls at the end of the first half. Those fouls continued to pile up after the break as he fouled out of his final game in an Alexandria uniform with nine points.
The Otters made sure Doyle and some of the other usual suspects on this team weren't going to beat them. Junior guard John Vogeler had just two points at the break before finishing with 14 after hitting three triples in the second half. Fergus Falls also limited Brandon Bistodeau to seven points.
David Krivanek almost single-handedly kept Alexandria within shouting distance in the first half. He hit two triples and had a bucket going into the break that gave him 12 points and made it a 10-point game. Krivanek finished with a team-high 16, while Joe Gorghuber added 10.
The Cardinals just couldn't overcome that initial burst by the Otters. They tried to make a run, cutting it to 16-11 after a Krivanek three, but every time they did, Fergus Falls had an answer. Along with Millard's big night, junior forward Austin Rund added 17 to complete an Otters' front court that had its way in the paint.
"I just thought they jumped out of the gun right away," Doyle said. "We talked about it, that we want to always be the first ones out. We jumped out on Rocori. We jumped out on Little Falls, but tonight they got the first blow in and we were on our heels the rest of the way. We could never recover from that first initial blow."
It ultimately led to the end of the season for this Alexandria team. The Cardinals (13-13, 7-9 CLC) won eight of their last 10 games after a slow start. That stretch made them believers coming into the semifinals before finding out how fleeting momentum can be in a one-game situation in March.
"I definitely wasn't happy in the beginning, but we weren't at full strength," Doyle said of the season. "I was happy how we finished. We played good down the stretch and I guess that's what you want. I'm glad we finished strong. I was happy how we progressed. I thought Brandon and Vogeler, they both came a long way, and I think they'll be good leaders next year on this team."
Vogeler, Bistodeau, Krivanek and Chase Kohler got a lot of minutes this winter and are part of a seven-man junior class that should be back as seniors. Guard Kevin Setterstrom and 6'4" center Ted Deitz join Doyle as the three current seniors who will have to be replaced heading into next winter.
FERGUS FALLS 32 38 - 70
ALEXANDRIA 22 38 - 60
ALEXANDRIA SCORING - Bistodeau - 7; Vogeler - 14; Gorghuber - 10; Krivanek - 16; Doyle - 9; Chase Kohler - 3; Deitz - 1
FERGUS FALLS SCORING - Reece Johnson - 6; Brady Hansen - 2; Millard - 29; Drew Pearson - 4; Jackson McAllister - 5; Isaiah Lemke - 3; Rund - 17; Joe Gaworski - 4