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Alex boys' basketball: Cards watch another slip away

Junior guard John Vogeler hung in the air before releasing a lay-up over the Willmar defense during the first half on Thursday night. Vogeler had 16 points in his second game back after missing most of the season with an ankle injury. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

The Alexandria boys' basketball team saw a similar script play out even with a full roster finally at its disposal last Thursday night.

Junior guard John Vogeler, the Cardinals' second leading scorer coming into the season, played in his second straight game after missing most of the season with an ankle injury. Vogeler put up 16 points, but it wasn't quite enough as Central Lakes Conference rival Willmar came to Alexandria and left with a 66-60 win.

"It's not like last year, that's for sure," Vogeler said of how he felt. "I'm just not quite used to the game and the motions and how fast the tempo is right now. That's why I was rushing shots and missing shots, but I think I should get better."

The Cardinals need him to work his way into form and take on a leadership role on the perimeter. Alexandria's struggles from the outside continued against Willmar as it went 7-of-24 as a team from three. Vogeler had two of those, showing off his range by hitting from deep behind the line on both, while David Krivanek went 3-for-6 from three.

Krivanek helped Alexandria rally from a 9-2 deficit to get within five at the break. His three with almost four minutes left in the first half tied the game at 22 apiece. Krivanek knows he needs to be a scorer for this team and showed he's capable of that with a team-high 17 points.

"[Head coach Forrest] Witt has been talking to us all year that we need three players to step up," Krivanek said. "Now we have John back to help us. That will help us a whole lot more."

Vogeler's presence back in the lineup can only help, but Alexandria needs to find some consistency if it wants to turn around a 3-7 start to the season. The home Cardinals played well in stretches on Thursday night. They finished with three players in double figures as Logan Doyle poured in 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

He threw down two powerful dunks that should have been momentum changers in the second half. The final of those came on a pretty lob pass from Chase Kohler on a fast break. Doyle caught the ball at its highest point with one hand before throwing it down to tie the game at 46 apiece.

That felt like a moment that should have turned the tide in Alexandria's favor. Instead, it was Willmar that responded with a 9-1 run to make it a 55-47 game with 4:25 left. Alexandria got it back to within three in the final minute, but a run-out off the press by Willmar's Austin Rambow put the game away on an easy lay-up for two of his game-high 24 points.

"It's not always down the stretch," Vogeler said of Alexandria's struggles to close out games. "It should be through the whole game. We got to be executing plays right, we got to be knowing what our roles are. If we do that throughout the game, we should have no problems closing games."

The games have been there for the taking through much of the season. Five of Alexandria's seven losses have come by single digits. The Cardinals had 14 games left in the regular season after their loss to Willmar. With their roster finally healthy, the chances to get things turned around will be there before heading into playoffs.

"I think right away, our team chemistry wasn't the greatest," Vogeler said. "I mean, people had their strengths and what not, but I think as we're all getting healthy and back into it, we're starting to know what our roles are and what we're supposed to do. I think that team chemistry will get better over time."


WILLMAR (7-7, 3-4 CLC) 31 35 - 66

ALEXANDRIA (3-7, 1-4 CLC) 26 34 - 60

TOTALS - Alexandria - FG - 21-53; Three-point FG - 7-24; Free throws - 10-17; Assists - 7; Blocks - 7; Rebounds - 27; Steals - 3; Turnovers - 2; Willmar - FG - 23; Three-point FG - 5; Free throws - 15-26

ALEXANDRIA - Kevin Setterstrom - 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Vogeler - 16 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Joe Gorghuber - 5 points, 1 assist, 1 block, 4 rebounds, 1 steal; Travis Krueger - 3 assists, 2 rebounds; Kohler - 5 points, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 3 rebounds; Krivanek - 17 points, 5 rebounds; Doyle - 14 points, 4 blocks, 10 rebounds

WILLMAR SCORING - Joe Leuze - 12; Kyler Johnson - 11; Sean Zuidema - 4; Jordan Geurtz - 1; Dylan Schueler - 2; Joel Carter - 3; Rambow - 24; Alex Grove - 4

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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