8AAA girls basketball: Fergus ends Alexandria's season in the semifinals
The Fergus Falls girls’ basketball team showed why it has been the top-ranked team in Class AAA all season as the Otters took advantage of a shorthanded Alexandria team to win 66-47 in the 8AAA semifinals in St. Cloud on Saturday.
The Cardinals had to play without the help of senior Amanda Christianson after the future St. Cloud State University guard was diagnosed with mononucleosis earlier this week. It was a blow to the Cardinals’ chances, but one the players say didn’t shatter their confidence coming into the game.
“We’ve played games without Amanda,” senior Sarah Bruzek said. “Games like this, it’s nice to have her. It’s nice to have her game. She’s an amazing player, but at the same time, the rest of us have to step in and fill her space.”
The Cardinals were able to stick within striking distance through much of the first half. The Otters built a 16-point lead late, but Alexandria used a 6-0 run to end the half that was culminated by a three from senior guard Karly Betterman that made it a 28-18 game.
Fergus Falls made sure that momentum didn’t linger after the break. The Otters scored eight points within the first two minutes and turned that into an 11-0 run to build their lead to 21 points. They never came close to relinquishing that as Fergus Falls secured its spot in the section title game.
The Otters’ big three had their usual games. Anna Monke finished with 20 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Bailey Strand added 18 points, while Brianna Rasmusson was an assist short of a triple-double after finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, three blocks and two steals. Kristin Traiser made it four in double figures for the Otters with 10 points.
“We put our best defenders on the big three and that’s the best we can do,” Bruzek said. “We had the rest of them float around and try to stop the other two players, as well. It’s just that there are some good players on the Fergus team.”
The Otters pulled away by being aggressive attacking the basket in the second half. They had 36 points in the paint in the game with 26 of those coming after halftime. That led to 53-percent shooting for Fergus Falls in the second half after hitting at a 37.5-percent clip in the first half.
“It was a little bit of us not floating in the lane like we should have,” senior forward Amanda Gould said. “[Head coach Wendy] Kohler wanted us to step off a few of their players, and we were out chasing them around a little bit. We could have stepped in and helped on the bigger shooters a little bit and covered them in the lane.”
Gould took Christianson’s spot in the starting lineup and scored 15 points in 19 minutes. Brooke Heggie also had 15 and Betterman had six points, eight rebounds and five assists. No other player had more than four points on a night when the Cardinals shot 38 percent from the field (18-of-47).
“Not really,” Gould said when asked if she felt like she had to shoulder some of the scoring load with Christianson out. “We’re a team of no stars, so I figured we would all pick it up a little bit, and we would all come out and make some shots and come together to fill her role.”
Fergus Falls is a team that doesn’t hurt itself and makes teams pay for their mistakes. They did that on Saturday as the Otters committed just seven turnovers and forced Alexandria into 19. They turned those turnovers into 29 points.
The Cardinals felt confident coming into the game, but the Otters are led by a group of talented seniors. They played like they were on a mission to capture another section title on Saturday night. The Otters will take a 27-1 record into the 8AAA championship game, while Alexandria’s season ends with a 19-7 record overall.
“We never gave up,” Gould said. “We’re fighters. We go to the end despite the score. We could have given up at any time, but we didn’t.”
ALEXANDRIA 18 29 – 47
FERGUS FALLS 28 38 – 66
TOTALS – Alexandria – FG – 18-47; Three-point FT – 3-15; FT – 8-12; Rebounds – 32; Assists – 11; Blocks – 4; Steals – 4; Turnovers – 19; Fergus Falls – FG – 23-50; Three-point FG – 3-9; FT – 17-24; Rebounds – 31; Assists – 13; Blocks – 7; Steals – 11; Turnovers – 7
ALEXANDRIA – Bruzek – 4 points, 1 steal, 6 rebounds; Gould – 15 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal; Heggie – 15 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal; Macy Hatlestad – 3 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block; Karly Betterman – 6 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal; Emily Thul – 2 points, 1 assist, 1 block; Kendall Kohler – 2 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists; Cheyenne Hendrickson – 1 rebound
FERGUS FALLS – Rasmusson – 13 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals; Monke – 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 steals; Traiser – 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist; Devonie Smith – 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals; Strand – 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals; Ashley Reinertson – 1 rebound; Kathryn Sawtell – 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals; Brooklyn Seland – 1 rebound