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Girls Basketball: Cards state title bid ends in semifinals loss to Orono

Orono senior Tori Andrew makes a move around Alexandria's Emma Ziegler on Thursday in the Class-3A State Tournament semifinals at Williams Arena. Andrew led both teams in scoring with 18 points in the 50-34 Spartans win. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)1 / 4
Alexandria senior Kayla Feldhake goes up for a layup Thursday in the state tournament semifinal game against Orono. Feldhake finished the contest with nine points, but the Cardinals fell 50-34. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)2 / 4
Kelby Olson-Rodel, a senior for Alexandria, goes up for an inside shot against Orono on Thursday at Williams Arena. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)3 / 4
Alexandria senior Kendall Kohler takes a shot from beyond the arc on Thursday in the state tournament semifinal game against Orono. The Spartans held Kohler to four points in the game and won it 50-34. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)4 / 4

The Alexandria girls basketball team’s hopes for a state title came to an end Thursday with a 50-34 loss to Orono in the Class-3A State Tournament semifinals.

The Cardinals (26-5) held their own in the first half and went into the intermission losing by only a 24-20 deficit, but the Spartans came out strong after the break and outscored Alexandria 16-5 in the opening nine minutes of the second half and didn’t look back.

“We had troubles adjusting in the second half and our shots weren’t falling,” Alex senior Kendall Kohler said. “We had trouble getting things going. You have to tip your hat. You can’t win them all.”

The Spartans outscored Alexandria 26-14 in the second half to take the win.

Just four Spartans found the hoop in the contest. Senior and Yale commit Tori Andrew led the offense with 18 points and five assists. Natalie Smaron added 14 points, 13 rebounds and five steals, while Madeline Loder tallied 10 points and Mattea Rice added eight.

Andrew and Smaron accounted for all 24 of Orono’s first-half points.

“I had no idea we only had two scorers,” Spartans head coach Lavesa Glover-Verhagen said. “At the time when I looked up I went, ‘oh no, what are we doing here.’ It was just a shock to me that it was only two people. It didn’t feel that way until you looked up. I thought we moved the ball around well.”

For the Cardinals, senior Kara Thomson came off the bench and shot 3-for-3 from three-point range for nine points, which was a big reason Orono was within reach at the half.

Thomson and Kayla Feldhake each finished with nine points on the game to lead the Alex offense.

“We felt like we were where we needed to be at halftime, and I thought we made some good adjustments offensively in the second half,” Alexandria head coach Wendy Kohler said. “But we were rushing our shots and we weren’t confident in that high post area and struggled a little bit on the boards.

“The two Orono girls are going D-1 for a reason. They’re talented kids and they’re hard workers and they’ve had a great season. (But) we knew that they were more than a two-person show. They have other kids that can do things as well, otherwise they wouldn’t be to this point.”

The Spartans kept the pressure on until the final buzzer, and Alexandria couldn’t string together a run.

“Coaching for so long, I never felt like we were really out of it,” coach Kohler said. “Even when they wore us down and we weren’t answering, we just needed to be more productive offensively. I felt defensively we were tough. We gave everything we had, and I know Orono knows it was a good battle.

“It’s a good team, and I credit our girls for not giving up. They always felt through every timeout that they could do it, and that’s why I coach this game. I love to coach a bunch of competitors like these girls.”

Alexandria will play the Academy of Holy Angels at 3 p.m. Saturday at Concordia University for third place.

The Spartans' win advances them to their first-ever state title appearance. They play third-seeded Winona, which beat Holy Angels 58-43 in the semifinal round, at 6 p.m. at Williams Arena.

ORONO     24 26 - 50

ALEX     20 14 - 34

TOTALS - FG - ALX 11-39, ORONO 18-44; 3PT FG - ALX 6-21, ORONO 3-8; FT - ALX 6-10, ORONO 11-55; Rebounds - ALX 24, ORONO 35; Turnovers - ALX 11, ORONO 8

ALEXANDRIA STATS - Feldhake - 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 1 turnover; Thomson - 9 points, 1 rebound, 2 turnovers; Kohler - 4 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 1 turnover; Emma Ziegler - 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers; Kelby Olson-Rodel - 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 turnovers; Emma Schmidt - 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover; McKenzie Duwenhoegger - 2 points, 1 rebound Maggie Slagle - 2 points;

ORONO STATS - Andrew - 18 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal; Smaron - 14 points, 13 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover; Loder - 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers; Rice - 8 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals, 2 turnovers; Anna Hughes - 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal; Ellen Nehotte - 1 rebound, 1 turnover; Gabby Germanson - 1 turnover