Section 8AAA boys' basketball: Detroit Lakes ends season for AlexandriaThe Lakers finished strong in a 64-52 win
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Cardinal boys’ basketball team felt good about its chances heading into the Section 8AAA semifinal game against a Detroit Lakes team it had already beaten during the regular season.
The Lakers didn’t let that shake their confidence. In a game that was tied 25-25 at the half, Detroit Lakes got big plays from its seniors down the stretch to punch its ticket to the section title game with a 64-52 win in St. Cloud.
“This one was tough to swallow,” Cardinals’ head coach Forrest Witt said. “We felt very confident, and we were extremely focused coming into this game. For as hard as we played and battled, we really struggled to shoot the ball (4-of-22 from three). Most of those attempts were great looks at the basket.”
The Lakers countered by hitting 8-of-16 threes themselves. Many of those came during critical stretches in the second half from their seniors. Derek Long hit his only three of the night after the break to give his team a one-point lead that they never relinquished.
Fellow seniors Joe Mollberg and Rick Hutchinson took over after that. Mollberg had five threes on the night and a game-high 24 points. Hutchinson added 18 points, 16 of which came after halftime.
“Mollberg and Hutchinson hit some big shots from the arc,” Witt said. “We contested most of their shots very well, but those two kids made some big plays that you need to get from your seniors if you want to win in big games like this.”
Junior Logan Doyle had 16 points to keep Alexandria within striking distance through most of the night. Senior Austin Storm added nine points and Jordan Smith and Tanner Rice each had eight.
The Cardinals trailed by just four with a little more than four minutes left when Mollberg hit his fifth three of the night. That proved to be the final blow for Alexandria as Detroit Lakes hit 7-of-9 free throws in the closing minutes to secure its spot in the title game.
The loss sent Alexandria into the off-season after finishing 10-16 overall. The Cardinals could never find the consistency this season to put more than a two-game winning streak together. They played well in stretches, beating CLC champion Willmar on February 21, only to follow that up with three straight losses to end the regular season.
Avoiding those lulls will be instrumental if this program is going to take a step forward next season. Witt knows that starts with how his returning players prepare this summer.
“Our kids are beginning to realize just how much work it takes if you want to be successful,” he said. “It’s a matter of commitment and time in the gym and weight room that we need to accomplish. From a basketball standpoint, I think we have some leadership emerging. Every good team has a guy or a couple guys that completely understand what it takes and how to keep everyone focused on the short term and long term.”
Guys like Doyle and sophomore guard John Vogeler showed flashes of being those kinds of players throughout the season. Both will be expected to help this team take a step forward next winter.
“With John and Logan, we have two kids that have a wealth of experience to lead us and show the other guys the way,” Witt said. “Throw in Ted Deitz, David Krivanek, Kevin Setterstrom and Brandon Bistodeau and you have four additional guys with quality varsity experience.”
DETROIT LAKES 25 39 – 62
ALEXANDRIA 25 27 – 52
ALEXANDRIA SCORERS – Doyle – 16; Vogeler – 6; AJ Anderson – 4; Smith – 8; Rice – 8; Bistodeau – 1; Storm – 9
DETROIT LAKES – Mollberg – 24; Labat – 15; Long – 5; McLeod – 2; Hutchinson – 18