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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The Ashby boys basketball team played close with one of the top teams in the Section 6A field on Thursday night as the Arrows fell 55-43 to Hillcrest Lutheran Academy. The Comets are undefeated at 8-0, but they couldn't completely shake a now 1-7 Ashby team. Hillcrest led 30-22 at the break after a Sean McGuire three. The Comets didn't separate much further than that after halftime but had enough to secure the win.
The West Central Area boys basketball team ran into the top-ranked team in the subsection by the QRF standings on Thursday night and fell in a 53-48 game to Ortonville. The Knights (5-4) fought the Trojans (8-2) to the end after falling behind 14-0 at the start. Ortonville knocked down four threes in that run, but WCA regrouped and pulled within 21-18 and 34-26 at the break.
News broke late last week that the University of Minnesota had hired a new football coach in the boisterous P.J. Fleck from Western Michigan. I watched the press conference announcing his hire on Jan. 6 and admittedly cringed a bit during some instances but came away pretty impressed overall. There was the talk of getting back to the Rose Bowl and winning championships. We've heard that all before in Minnesota, most notably from the failed Tim Brewster not that long ago.
This is a look at how some area athletes are doing at their respective colleges or in their athletic careers. Similar pieces will run periodically through the fall, winter and spring seasons. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any more detailed information on the athletes listed or the names of other athletes who are playing college sports that you would like to see included in future publications.
The Alexandria girls basketball team shows no signs of slowing down in the Central Lakes Conference. The Cardinals (10-2, 6-0) dominated another team in league play on Thursday as Sauk Rapids-Rice (6-5, 3-3) proved no match in a 66-31 final.
BOYS BASKETBALL Alexandria vs. Albany, 7:30 p.m. Osakis at St. John’s Prep, 7:30 p.m. Minnewaska vs. LPGE, 6 p.m. GIRLS BASKETBALL Osakis at Barnesville, 7:30 p.m. Ashby at Battle Lake, 7:15 p.m. DANCE Alexandria at Willmar, 6:30 p.m. GIRLS HOCKEY
The Alexandria wrestling team had trailed most of the night against Rocori before a forfeit win for eighth-ranked Quintin Kluver-Longfellow at 220 pounds made it a 29-28 Cardinals’ lead. That set the stage for sophomore heavyweight Deryk Neu, who wasn’t about to let an opportunity to secure the win slip away. His 11-2 major decision over junior Dylan Shafer wrapped up Alexandria’s first victory in the Central Lakes Conference in a 33-28 final on Thursday.
BOYS BASKETBALL Brandon-Evansville vs. Parkers Prairie, 7:15 p.m. Minnewaska vs. Sauk Centre, 6 p.m. Ashby at Hillcrest Lutheran, 7:15 p.m. WCA vs. Ortonville, 7:30 p.m. GIRLS BASKETBALL Alexandria at Sauk Rapids-Rice, 7:30 p.m. Osakis at Swanville, 7:30 p.m. Parkers Prairie at Underwood, 7:15 p.m.
The Alexandria wrestling team finished seventh out of eight teams at the Bluejacket Invite hosted by Cambridge-Isanti this past Saturday. The Cardinals finished with 87.5 points. St. Francis won the invite with 226 points, while Cambridge-Isanti rounded out the top three with 197.5. Ben Bogart paced Alexandria with a first-place finish at 132 pounds. He knocked off Leo Wilczek of Little Falls in an 8-0 major decision in the title match. Quintin Kluver-Longfellow had the Cardinals' next highest finish by taking third at 220 pounds after a pin in 2:05 in his final match.
The Parkers Prairie girls basketball team cruised to 8-1 on Monday night as the Panthers stymied another team defensively in a 71-34 victory at Browerville-Eagle Valley. The Panthers have held seven of their nine opponents to less than 40 points for a Little Eight Conference-best 32.7 opponent points per game average. They were at it again on Monday as the Tigers (3-9) scored just 11 second-half points. That allowed Parkers Prairie to run away with the win.