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Monke leads Otters past Cards

Alexandria’s Brooke Heggie shoots over the defense of Fergus Falls’ Anna Monke on Monday night. Monke stole the show against the Cardinals, finishing with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Alexandria girls’ basketball team feels it has made a statement as the section tournament nears in a 63-52 loss to undefeated Fergus Falls at home on Monday.

The Cardinals cut the Otters’ lead down to four points twice in the second half before losing its offensive momentum in the closing minutes. With Fergus Falls coming into the game a perfect 24-0, the Cardinals felt the game was a confidence booster against top-ranked Fergus Falls.

“We left it all on the court tonight, big time,” head coach Wendy Kohler said. “I think we made a statement tonight, Fergus Falls knows we’re here.”

Anna Monke scored 26 points to lead the Otters’ offense. Amanda Christianson came off the bench to score 18 points, playing the most minutes she has since suffering a stress fracture four weeks ago. Sarah Bruzek also finished in double digit scoring with 12 points and Brooke Heggie finished with 10.

After losing both regular season matchups against rival Fergus Falls, the Cardinals hope they will have another chance to face the Otters in March during the Section 8AAA tournament.

“What we were talking about is third time’s the charm,” Bruzek said. “We came pretty close with them tonight and it is always a battle with Fergus. It always has been, always will be.”

Heading into the game, the Cardinals knew they would have to find a way to slow down the Otters’ two 2013 all-state players Brianna Rasmusson and Bailey Strand, and an honorable mention all-state player in Monke. Although Monke had a big game, Rasmusson finished with only seven points and Strand with 13.

“They are a team of three main players, is what we figured out,” Bruzek said. “Those three can shoot, they can drive and they can rebound, they are the dynamic trio.”

While the Otters have three great players, the Cardinals feel their strength lies in depth on the roster. They have about 10 players who have the opportunity to play varsity minutes in any game.

“What we have is depth on the bench,” Bruzek said. “We have five girls that can play all the time and girls that can back us up on the bench. We go 10 deep, at least.”

Alexandria also felt the game was an improvement after losing 53-26 against Detroit Lakes last Tuesday. Kohler said the team’s struggles on offense against Detroit Lakes were much improved on Monday.

“Our girls bounced back really well. They were solid defensively; we had some breakdowns, offensively,” Kohler said. “If we keep them off the free throw line and execute a little better, we’re there.”

The Cardinals will wrap up the regular season schedule with a home game Friday against Sartell-St. Stephen. The Section 8AAA tournament begins on March 4.


FERGUS FALLS 33 30 – 63

ALEXANDRIA 20 32 – 52

ALEXANDRIA – Macy Hatlestad – 7 points, 2 steals; Sarah Bruzek – 12 points; Karly Betterman – 3 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds; Brooke Heggie – 10 points, 2 steals, 5 rebounds; Amanda Christianson – 18 points; Emily Thul – 2 points; Kendall Kohler – 3 assists, 2 steals

FERGUS FALLS – Devonie Smith – 6 points; Kristin Traiser – 7 points; Bailey Strand – 13 points; Brianna Rasmusson – 7 points; Anna Monke – 26 points; Kathryn Sawtell – 4 points

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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