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 Brandon-Evansville boys basketball team is searching for some more offense as the Chargers went into the Christmas break with a 47-32 loss to a good Ortonville team on Dec. 22. The Trojans' only loss came to undefeated Hancock (5-0) on Dec. 21, and Ortonville (6-1) bounced back from that by holding Brandon-Evansville (4-3) to a season-low 32 points.
The Minnewaska boys basketball team snapped a two-game losing streak on Dec. 22 and did not leave any doubt about it after taking care of Benson in a 70-22 game. The Braves (0-5) are still looking for their first win this season and had no answer for a now 6-2 Lakers team. Minnewaska shot 58 percent (24-41), including 20-of-29 from inside the three-point line. Senior guard Matt Gruber led three players in double figures with 17 points for the Lakers, while Garrett Jensen added 14 points and Jackson Johnsrud chipped in 11. Nine different players scored in all for Minnewaska.
Class A's fifth-ranked West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville wrestling brought some momentum into the Christmas break on Dec. 22 by sweeping two matches at the Morris Area Triangular. The Knights (4-1) had to work for it in both their matches but got the job done in a 46-28 win against Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta and a 39-32 win over Minnewaska. Minnewaska never let WCA-A-B-E jump too far ahead, but the Lakers could not quite match up with the Knights' depth.
The West Central Area girls basketball team went into Christmas with a 5-3 record after Wheaton-Herman-Norcross won a 57-46 game on Dec. 22. The Knights gave the Warriors (6-0) their biggest scare of the season so far. Wheaton is ranked seventh in the Dec. 20 Class A polls from Minnesota Basketball News and is beating teams by an average of almost 30 points per night. The Warriors held just a 31-27 lead at the half, but were able to fight off a good effort from WCA for their sixth straight win.
The Alexandria girls basketball team had its best offensive output of the winter so far, scoring a season high in points during an 89-52 rout of St. Cloud Apollo on Thursday night. Senior forward Courtney Gould led the charge with 22 points. Ella Grove added 19 and McKenzie Duwenhoegger put in 18 as the Cardinals kept cruising early this season on their way to a 6-1 overall record. They are 3-1 in the Central Lakes Conference, while St. Cloud Apollo dropped to 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the CLC.
The Alexandria girls hockey team ran into the Central Lakes Conference leaders on Thursday night and fell in a 3-1 final to Brainerd-Little Falls. The Flying Warriors (11-1, 5-0 CLC) completed the sweep of the Cardinals (8-4, 4-4 CLC) after beating them in a 3-2 game on Nov. 17. Brainerd-Little Falls was up 3-0 before Alexandria could get on the board in the second period. Calley Richardson scored for the Cardinals at 12:53, but Cheyenne Abear scored twice for the Flying Warriors and Sophie Robinson added another to give their team a lead it never relinquished.
The Alexandria boys hockey team's tough stretch continued on Thursday night as the Cardinals dropped to 1-4 in their last five games after a 3-1 loss to Brainerd. The Warriors (4-2, 2-0 Central Lakes Conference) gave up five power-play chances but killed every one of those. Shots were almost even at 26-23 in favor of Brainerd, but the Warriors took advantage of more of those chances.
The Parkers Prairie girls basketball team continued its winning ways on Thursday night as the Panthers breezed past New York Mills in a 68-31 final. It's the fifth straight win for Parkers Prairie (5-1) after falling to West Central Area in the season opener. Four different players scored in double figures. Megan Benzinger, Megan Dreger and Faith Alberts all had 16, while Veronica Schwartz added 12 points, 15 rebounds and five steals. Parkers Prairie has off until Dec. 29 when the Panthers go to Verndale for a 6 p.m. start. PARKERS PRAIRIE 68, NYM 31
The Alexandria boys basketball team had its three-game winning streak snapped on Thursday after going to conference and section rival Fergus Falls. The Otters (4-3, 3-1 Central Lakes Conference) held the Cardinals (3-3, 2-2 CLC) to a tie for their lowest point total of the season in a 54-47 final. St. Cloud Tech also held Alexandria to 47 on Dec. 5. Alexandria shot 39 percent (18-46), including 26 percent (8-30) from three.
The Minnewaska boys basketball team started the season 5-0 but endured its first losing streak on Thursday night as the Lakers followed a loss at Sauk Centre on Dec. 19 with a tight loss to Redwood Valley. The Cardinals (4-2) held a four-point lead at the half and held on through the final 18 minutes in an evenly matched game all night. The Lakers (5-2) shot 50 percent (26-51), but it wasn't quite enough.