The Alexandria girls basketball team had its season ended a game earlier than expected last March, and the Cardinals would love nothing more than to get back and have another crack at the best of the Class AAA field.

Alexandria went 1-1 at last year’s state tournament by beating Red Wing ahead of the consolation championship that got canceled due to the pandemic. Year in and year out, this program contends near the top of the section and Central Lakes Conference fields, and the Cardinals don’t expect that to change now.

“Our expectations do not change or waver in tough times,” head coach Wendy Kohler said. “We expect to contend for CLC and Section 8AAA titles. That is always the common goal of the team and program. The girls will set other common goals and values for each other.”

Kohler knows there is a lot that will go into this season. She wants her team to be a close-knit group in a time when athletes are being asked to limit contact with others in order to get through an uninterrupted schedule.

“We will focus on developing as a team and moving forward, aligning our common goals together,” Kohler said. “We will become extremely ‘laser like’ in our approach yet not cut corners risking what we need to build a solid foundation as a unit.”

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Alexandria has a solid nucleus to build around. Senior guards Mataya Hoelscher (Concordia College), Jaya Hatlestad (Wisconsin-River Falls) and wing Alayna Strand (Jamestown) are all back after committing to play collegiately in the offseason. Lilly Horn, Myah Kremer and Cate Bloom join them as seniors who played important roles on last year’s 23-8 team.

The Cardinals will develop depth with their youth behind those upperclassmen and Kohler said players keeping themselves healthy and available will be critical to success. Alexandria won’t have a lot of size in the post, but the Cardinals have worked around that before by establishing the tempo they want to play with behind their aggressive defense.

“We have a strong team chemistry once again of no stars and everyone does their part,” Kohler said. “In our AGB program, that is the biggest strength any team could have. We will have a strong crew of seniors leading the way with a nice blend of youth. We will push tempo to a frenetic pace on both ends of the court.”

2021 ALEXANDRIA GIRLS BASKETBALL

SENIORS - Izzy Rasmusen, Mataya Hoelscher, Jaya Hatlestad, Lily Horn, Myah Kremer, Cate Bloom, Alayna Strand

JUNIORS - Maggie Anderson, Addison Boesl, Lilly Thul, Tessa McGrane, Carlie Wolf

SOPHOMORES - Morgan Jones, Michelle Nieland, Bailey Saar, Hannah Boraas, Ella Steussy, Brynn Kosters, Stella Kvale, Morgan Brevik

FRESHMEN - Ellie Heydt, Ella Sayre, Greta Oldenkamp, Kaia Emter, Marisa Rousou, Kinsley Gange, Maddie Husfeldt, Brynn Cross

EIGHTH-GRADERS - Hadley Thul, Chloe Scholl

ALEXANDRIA GIRLS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE

Jan. 15 at Willmar, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 21 vs. St. Cloud Tech, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 23 vs. Eden Prairie, 11:15 a.m.

Jan. 26 at Brainerd, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 29 at Bemidji, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 1 at St. Cloud Apollo, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 4 vs. Fergus Falls, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 8 vs. Sartell, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 12 at Sauk Rapids-Rice, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 16 at Detroit Lakes, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 18 vs. Rocori, 7:15 p.m.

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

Feb. 26 vs. St. Cloud Apollo, 7:15 p.m.

March 2 vs. Willmar, 7:15 p.m.

March 4 at St. Cloud Tech, 7:15 p.m.

March 6 at Sartell, 1 p.m.

March 8 vs. Brainerd, 7:15 p.m.

March 11 at Fergus Falls, 7:15 p.m.