Boys basketball: Sabres shock Alexandria in closing minutes
Everything was playing out exactly how Alexandria hoped it would through 30 minutes in the Section 8AAA semifinals on Friday night in Moorhead.
The third-seeded Cardinals led second-seeded Sartell-St. Stephen 46-33 with about six minutes left. It was still an 11-point lead with four minutes to go, but that’s when the Sabres stormed back, scoring 20 of the final 24 points to shock Alexandria with a 55-50 loss. It sends Sartell to the section title game against Bemidji on Thursday night.
“Hopefully we learn from it,” Alexandria assistant coach Tom Miller said. “That’s kind of the key of this whole thing. We have a good looking future but that’s something we have to learn from.”
Turnovers and missed free throws cost the Cardinals down the stretch. Alexandria led 49-43 with 1:30 to go, but a missed one-and-one by the Cardinals and a three from Dominic Hagy for Sartell made it a one-possession game.
Alexandria senior Trey Hoepner followed by making one of two free throws, but the momentum shifted entirely on the next possession. Sabres senior forward Thomas Gieske made a bucket and was fouled. He sank the free throw to make it a one-point game.
“I knew this feeling before from earlier this year,” Hagy said. “We were down by three to Monticello at the end of a game this year and came back and won. We are never out of it, and once we knew we had a chance it was over.”
On the ensuing possession, Sartell created a turnover that led to a Hagy layup that gave the Sabres a 51-50 lead. Hagy only had five points, but all five were huge in the comeback as Alexandria never scored again after the junior guard gave the Sabres the advantage.
Alexandria sophomore guard Colton Roderick, who led his team with 15 points, had a chance to tie the game with six seconds left. His three point attempt was short.
Gieske led all scorers with 22 points, and senior Luke Tillotson added 16.
“I thought we executed the game plan well,” Miller said. “It just came down to some turnovers and free throws at the end.”
Everything pointed to Alexandria moving on in this one. The Cardinals did not show any signs of nerves through the first half. They led 30-22 at the break after Carrson Jones knocked down a three at the buzzer.
Alexandria led by seven early before the Sabres went on a 12-0 run. The Cardinals withstood that punch and responded with an 11-0 run of their own.
The Cardinals say goodbye to seniors Trey Hoepner, Josh Wegner and Anders Hedstrom after a 19-9 season overall. Miller had nothing but great things to say about how they contributed to the program.
“That’s who we’ve leaned on all year,” Miller said. “People say we have a young team and we do, but we lean on those seniors a lot. It’s a big void to fill with them leaving.”
Alexandria’s young core will come back next season with the experience of heartbreak. A loss like the one suffered Friday night already has them wanting to get to work.
“We are coming back next year even harder,” Roderick said. “I think we have a good chance at going further next year. We have most of our team back even though we lost a couple seniors. It just gives us a chance to step up.”
ALEXANDRIA 30 20 - 50
SARTELL 22 33 - 55
ALEXANDRIA SCORING - Trey Hoepner - 12; Carrson Jones - 3; Anders Hedstrom - 6; Colton Roderick - 15; Treyton Thompson - 14