Girls' basketball: Cardinal girls give Kohler 400th victoryAlexandria handed Detroit Lakes a 76-38 loss Monday
By: By Eric Morken, Sports Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
A 76-38 win for the Alexandria girls’ basketball team may seem like just another day at the office for the fourth-ranked Cardinals, but this one took on a little added significance on Monday night.
The Cardinals not only bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to Bemidji on Saturday afternoon, they also helped their head coach reach quite a milestone in the process. Wendy Kohler reached 400 wins for her career with Alexandria’s home win over Detroit Lakes.
The Cardinals made it look easy, building a 47-13 lead at the break before coasting to the finish line. After the game, Kohler’s players lifted her onto their shoulders as she was recognized for an accomplishment that required a lot of dedication and a lot of help along the way.
“It just makes me feel proud that all the girls I have coached and all the coaches I have coached with were able to accomplish something together,” Kohler said. “It doesn’t mean anything to me, as far as an individual thing. It was a team effort.”
That has been the mantra of this group of players all season. Every individual knows her role and plays it well.
That was the case again on Monday night. Angela Christianson provided 24 points and nine rebounds. Gracie Bruzek dished out 12 assists, while Sam Trumm and Kate Gearman each finished with 10 points. Nine players scored in all.
“The depth is really important,” Kohler said. “With the system that we run, it’s really important that every girl has their head on straight. Lauren Trumm for example, she plays five different positions. So she has to know five different spots…we tell all the girls, ‘you want to play the game as fast as you can, but not in your head.’ You want them to slow it down in their head.”
The Cardinals seem to have mastered that when it comes to the fast break. Alexandria runs no matter what the situation is. That has worn down the opposition all season.
The Lakers could not keep up with the Cardinals on Monday night. Alexandria pushed the ball with ease, often throwing passes over the top of the defense for easy layups.
The Cardinals do not get to take a break on defense. Alexandria is always pressuring the basketball, looking for opportunities to trap and use its length to disrupt the flow of the offense.
“The thing that is good about this team is there are a lot of things that we can control just because of our defense,” Kohler said. “We can dictate many things with our athleticism and just our will on defense.”
That defense stymied the Lakers. Detroit Lakes struggled to get its offense set because of the pressure for most of the game.
That led to an easy win in what could have been a trap game for Alexandria. The Lakers were coming off a win over Moorhead, a team that beat Alexandria earlier this year. The Cardinals were coming off a loss against Bemidji that they felt they should have won after controlling the game for most of the night.
After that game, Kohler wanted her players to focus on the future. Lamenting a game that got away would do the Cardinals no good heading down the stretch. The focus should be on the fact that they were right there with one of the best teams in Class AAA.
“We told the girls, this game is a good game for us because it was like a section title or even a state tournament game for us,” Kohler said. “We battled hard. We did control the game, but we really battled foul trouble and did not play with our full complement of players for most of the night.
“We told the girls, ‘you just need to come right back out and do what we do.’ You can’t lick your wounds. We have to just keeping moving forward. They really did a great job of just putting it behind them tonight.”
Playing in tight games against teams like Bemidji should only benefit this team come March. The Cardinals know they are right there with the best teams in their class. Now they just need to finish off those teams when the opportunity presents itself.
“They are really starting to believe in themselves,” Kohler said. “As crazy as that seems. I think this is a pretty humble team, and they really are starting to believe now that they are going to be a tough team to beat. They just need to continue to learn how to win down the stretch and clock management. Those are things we are going to be really zeroing in on in practices.”
ALEXANDRIA 47 29 – 76
DETROIT LAKES 13 25 – 38
ALEXANDRIA LEADERS – Angela Christianson – 24 points, 9 rebounds; Kate Gearman – 10 points; Sam Trumm – 10 points, 7 rebounds; Alli Haar – 8 points, 9 rebounds; Lauren Trumm – 6 points; Cara Wood – 6 points; Allie Thull – 4 points; Gracie Bruzek – 3 points, 12 assists, 5 steals; Whitney Gesell – 2 points