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Alex boys' basketball: Cards push 17-1 Brainerd but fall 56-54

The Alexandria boys' basketball team had another chance to close out a tight game on Friday but came up a few seconds short in a 56-54 loss to Brainerd.

The Warriors came into the night with a 9-0 record in the Central Lakes Conference and left with their perfect record intact. But it took everything they had. Alexandria's junior guard John Vogeler made sure of that as he poured in 17 points in the second half and finished with a game-high 21.

"It's really hard to explain," Vogeler said of watching another close game slip away. "We've been there every step of the way the whole season. If we've lost a game, other than Moorhead, it's been within 10 points. This one we were all amped up, and we really wanted to win this one. We worked really hard for an opportunity to win, and it just didn't happen."

The Warriors had a 26-16 lead at the break. The Cardinals came out of the half with an 8-0 run that got them right back into the game. Alexandria never held a lead in the second half, but they never let the Warriors pull away.

Vogeler's jump shot from a step inside the three-point line made it a 47-46 game with 2:44 left. After an Alexandria timeout, Warriors' senior forward Marcus Comstock got a step on the defense and put in a lay-up and got fouled in the process. He calmly drained the free throw to make it a two-possession game.

"It all comes down to little things," Vogeler said. "Taking charges and things like that. Coach has been really emphasizing that. It all comes down to getting together and making a stop. Coming down to the wire, you have to be sound as a team. Make no mistakes and capitalize on our opportunity."

The Warriors were clutch from the free throw line down the stretch. Comstock went 5-for-5 from the line in the final three minutes, and Tony Sauer added two big ones in the closing seconds. Chase Kohler and Logan Doyle both hit late threes for the Cardinals, but Doyle's came with less than five seconds and no timeouts left. That allowed the Warriors to run the clock out without in-bounding it and escape with their 17th win of the season.

"Other than Moorhead, with how we've played, we could have beat every team we've played," Vogeler said. "We're there in every single game. We're not a bad team or anything. We're just not there when it comes down to the little things. I mean, look at the score; 54-56. We could have easily, easily won this game."

The Cardinals can't dwell on it long as they return to action on Saturday against Bemidji. The boys' and girls' teams will host a doubleheader to raise money for cancer research. The Alexandria girls will face the Lumberjacks at 6 p.m. with the boys game to follow at around 7:30. The Bemidji boys will come into the game with a 1-16 record.

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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