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A presence in the post

Junior center Brooke Heggie shoots a layup against the defense of St. Cloud Tech’s Elizabeth Krippner during the Cardinals’ home opener on December 20. Heggie had 16 points to help Alexandria to the win. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

The Alexandria girls’ basketball team was already a talented group that was poised for a strong season before former Crookston center Brooke Heggie joined the mix.

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With Heggie, the Cardinals have added another dimension that should make them an even bigger threat to the likes of top-ranked Fergus Falls and the rest of the Central Lakes Conference and Section 8AAA fields.

Heggie’s commitment to basketball is part of the reason why she ended up in Alexandria this year as her family got closer to the Twin Cities, where Heggie will play AAU ball with the Metro Stars this summer.

“Basketball is a big part of my life,” the junior center said. “I’m hopefully going to play it in college, so we kind of wanted to move closer to the Cities where I got more recognized and close to my AAU so it wasn’t so much of a [drive]. It was four hours every weekend and Alexandria was kind of right in the middle."

At 6’2” with a strong, athletic frame, Heggie gives this team a low-post scorer who averaged 14 points per game as a sophomore. She is still adjusting to making the jump from Class AA in Crookston to Class AAA with the Cardinals. Heggie admits that the speed of the game and the strength of the girls she is battling down low are at a higher level now, but playing AAU for North Tartan in previous years helped prepare her for that.

The biggest adjustment has come in learning a brand new system. Heggie has never played in a system as fast as the one Alexandria’s Wendy Kohler likes to run. There are a lot of responsibilities both offensively and defensively that her new head coach expects out of her.

“It’s a huge adjustment for her,” Kohler said. “The expectations defensively, the trapping, the system – we don’t have the easiest system to play in. These kids have grown up in it. They understand it. We run a lot of things offensively and so it’s been a huge learning curve for her. I think she’s really handled it. She has a bright basketball IQ.”

Heggie has gotten more comfortable every time out this season. She scored eight points in her first two games before posting 20 points against Sauk Rapids-Rice on December 17 and 16 against St. Cloud Tech three days later.

She scored eight straight points in the first half for Alexandria after the Cardinals had fallen behind by nine points early against the Tigers. Heggie knows she can bring a presence down low, but she hopes to do more than just put up stats.

“Definitely another strong post and then hopefully just becoming a leader,” she said of her role on this team. “The girls were very welcoming and they just brought me in right away and made me feel like a part of the team. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.”

Heggie has already slid into the starting center spot. That has moved fellow 6’0” junior post Cheyenne Hendrickson into a key reserve role as one of the first players off the bench for this team.

Alexandria already had a lot of talent and experience returning at the guard and wing positions this season, including St. Cloud State University signee Amanda Christianson. With the addition of Heggie, the Cardinals have added depth to their post play and given teams one more thing to worry about on an already gifted roster.

“I think the biggest thing that she brings to us is that nice big, strong inside presence,” Kohler said. “I like what Cheyenne does coming in off the bench, too. The thing is that teams have to make decisions on who they’re going to put on Amanda. Amanda is a very physical guard at 5’10” and they have to make some decisions on who they’re going to put on the other guards who can hit shots. I think we have kids that can score out of every position, so having Brooke gives them more problems they have to worry about.”

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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