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Card boys' basketball: Redbirds clip Wingers

Eric Morken, Echo Press Alexandria's Dan Gorghuber hung in the air before putting up a shot over Red Wing's Coleman Kelly. Gorghuber had eight points and five rebounds to help lead the Cardinals to their third straight win.

The Cardinal boys' basketball team showed what a couple wins in a row can do for the confidence of a team in its 69-68 win over Red Wing last Tuesday night.

Alexandria could have folded after a three by the Wingers' Pat Kelly gave his team a 67-64 lead with almost four minutes left in the game. Instead, the Cardinals held Red Wing to just one free throw the rest of the way and got a clutch free throw of their own from Chris Curry to secure the win.

Curry took advantage of a second chance in the game's final seconds. He missed the front end of a one-and-one in a tie game with a little more than a minute left. With 2.6 seconds to go, he got back to the line after drawing contact on a drive to the middle of the lane. This time he connected on his first free throw in the same scenario. Red Wing gathered the rebound off the second shot and called a timeout. The Wingers' ensuing inbounds pass was stolen near mid-court as Alexandria celebrated its third straight win.

"That's just the type of player Chris is," head coach Forrest Witt said. "He didn't have a great offensive game, and he had missed the free throw prior to that. But to be able to step up in that situation says a lot about him and just the type of person and player he is. He has a short memory and will take the next shot."

It is a game that the Cardinals might not have won three weeks ago. Alexandria struggled to find any consistency through its first three games on its way to an 0-3 start.

The Cardinals rebounded with back-to-back wins in the Central Lakes Conference. Those wins gave them the poise they needed to win a tight game against the Wingers.

"We went 0-3 and lost some confidence," senior guard Parker Giroux said. "But I think after we got that first one, we knew we could string a couple in a row here. We knew Red Wing was a good team, so it was a big step for our team to get the win."

Giroux's play put his team in position to win the game down the stretch. He had a game high 25 points to go along with nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. Fifteen of those points came after halftime. His ability to hit from deep and find shots for himself and his teammates off penetration frustrated the Wingers all night.

"He's been huge," Witt said. "You can tell he has a year of good experience under his belt. And he's a competitor. He wants to win. He wants the ball in his hands, and he understands those situations. He got off to a little bit of a slow start. He was trying to do maybe a little bit too much, but he certainly rebounded well and hit some big shots for us tonight."

Dylan Galligan provided the Cardinals with the second scoring option the team needs to win consistently. He was aggressive around the basket, especially in the first half when he scored 15 of his 17 points.

Junior Austin Storm gave Alexandria some positive minutes, as well. He came off the bench in the second half and hit a three from the right wing that gave his team the lead at 50-48. Storm drilled another three on the ensuing possession. This time he was fouled on the shot as his teammates erupted before he stepped to the line and converted the four-point play.

"That's a big motivation boost for sure," Curry said. "He doesn't get much playing time, and he comes in and hits his shots. It's a great feeling. It brings all of [our spirits up]."

The Cardinals led by six at that point. They held that lead until Kelly's three gave his team just its second lead of the second half. It did not last long. Curry made two of three from the line after he was fouled on a three while trying to answer on the Cardinals' next possession.

The Alexandria defense took over down the stretch. The Cardinals forced a turnover and two misses on contested jump shots on the Wingers last three possessions.

That proved to be the difference as Alexandria moved to 3-3 and gained a little more confidence in the process. It is the start of what the Cardinals hope will be a permanent turnaround after a rough start to the season.

"We just need to stay positive and work as a team," Giroux said. "Coaches, after our first three losses, they just said, 'We need to work as a team, work as a team and just get better.' I think we're doing that. I think if we continue to do that, we can be the top team in the conference."


RED WING 34 34 - 68

ALEXANDRIA 35 34 - 69

ALEXANDRIA LEADERS - Eric Carlsen - 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal; Giroux - 25 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals; Storm - 7 points; Curry - 5 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal; Luc Beireis - 1 point, 1 assist, 2 steals; Mitch Ronning - 2 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists; Galligan - 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist; Dan Gorghuber - 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block; A.J. Anderson - 2 points, 2 rebounds

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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