Athletes getting back with their teammates at practices on Jan. 4 allowed a sense of normalcy back into their lives after the delayed start to the sports season due to the pandemic.

Alexandria boys basketball coach Forrest Witt wants his players to be able to place their attention on the game as much as possible now. It’s a Cardinals team that has a lot of talent to work with, including three top scorers back from a year ago in guards Colton Roderick, Kristen Hoskins and Erik Hedstrom.

“Our focus and mindset will remain the same this season as it has been in prior seasons,” Witt said. “There will likely be some things that arise outside of our control, but our collective preparations as a program will be very consistent.

“We believe this group has a chance to be a very good team that has the potential to compete for a (Central Lakes Conference) and section championship. With that said, we will have a lot of new faces to the varsity scene, and we need to figure out which guys are able to fulfill vital roles on our team.”

Roderick (19 PPG), Hoskins (14.7 PPG) and Hedstrom (11.8 PPG) give Alexandria established scorers to build around. Roderick, who signed to play at Division II Bemidji State University, made an impact all over the court last year by adding 6.4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3.2 steals a night. He shot 54% overall, including 41% from three on 38-of-91 from behind the arch.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“I like the leadership of our team,” Witt said. “It's a collective group of unselfish, hard working kids that want to be successful. Colton, Erik, and Kristen all had excellent seasons last year, so we'll lean on their experience and ability, but we also have a wealth of other talented kids that will provide great depth.”

The Cardinals made it all the way to the Section 8AAA title game a year ago before falling in a 72-70 game against St. Cloud Apollo. Alexandria is ready to blend new players into the mix and see how far this group can go into the postseason.

“In my opinion, the most important factor every season is how guys develop and adapt to their role on the team,” Witt said. “We graduated four players last season. Each of them embraced and developed within their unique role at a high level. We'll see who capitalizes on the opportunities as we progress throughout this season.”

2021 ALEXANDRIA BOYS BASKETBALL

SENIORS - Colton Roderick, Brady McCoy, Kobe Jenson

JUNIORS - Zach Gundberg, Turner Haar, Tommy Nichols, Kristen Hoskins, JD Hennen, Wyatt Odland, Peter Sansted, Erik Hedstrom, Carter Steffensmeier, Elijah Vanderveer, Will Heydt, Myles Sansted

SOPHOMORES - Jaxon Schoenrock, Trevin Hoepner

FRESHMAN - Grayson Grove

ALEXANDRIA BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE

Jan. 14 vs. Bemidji, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 16 vs. Brainerd, 1 p.m.

Jan. 19 at Fergus Falls, 7:15 p.m

Jan. 22 at Sartell, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 25 at St. Cloud Apollo, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 28 vs. Sauk Rapids-Rice, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 2 at Rocori, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 5 vs. St. Cloud Apollo, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 11 at Willmar, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 16 vs. St. Cloud Tech, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 19 at Brainerd, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 23 at Bemidji, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 25 vs. Fergus Falls, 7:15 p.m.

March 2 at Sauk Rapids-Rice, 7:15 p.m.

March 4 vs. Rocori, 7:15 p.m.

March 6 vs. Sartell, 1 p.m.

March 12 vs. Willmar, 7:15 p.m.