The Alexandria girls basketball team started the season shorthanded with senior guard Ella Grove out with an injury against a big lineup from New Prague on Saturday.

The Cardinals were taking part in the Minnesota Breakdown Tip-Off Classic, an event that featured many of the top girls programs in the state. The Trojans are led by Minnesota State-Mankato recruit Emily Russo, and she and her teammates held off Alexandria in a 55-48 final at Hopkins High School.

“It was a physical, intense battle as the Lady Cards cranked up the heat big time in the second half, forcing the Trojans into a multitude of turnovers,” Alexandria head coach Wendy Kohler said. “We just couldn't get over the hump and make enough plays down the stretch to seal the deal.”

Alayna Strand
Alayna Strand

The Cardinals spread out their scoring with Mia McGrane leading the way with 12 points. Jaya Hatlestad had 11 and Alayna Strand and Mataya Hoelscher each finished with nine. Strand also added a team-high 10 rebounds, and McGrane was all over New Prague defensively with eight steals.

Alexandria will try to bounce back in its home opener on Tuesday when St. Cloud Tech comes to town for a 7:15 p.m. tip.

NEW PRAGUE 55, ALEXANDRIA 48

ALEXANDRIA - Mia McGrane - 12 points, 5 rebounds, 8 steals; Jaya Hatlestad - 11 points, 4 rebounds; Alayna Strand - 9 points, 10 rebounds; Mataya Hoelscher - 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists; Lilly Horn - 5 points; Myah Kremer - 2 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists; Cate Bloom - 4 rebounds