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From hockey to hardwood

Alexandria's Alec Wensman would have stood above the crowd on skates at 6'6" had he stayed on the path he took for seven years. As it is, he is starting to stand out on the hardwood as he finds ways to make an impact with the Cardinal boys basket...

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Alexandria junior Alec Wensman goes up for a layup after getting in front of the defense of Delano’s Sean Campbell on Saturday night at AAHS. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

Alexandria’s Alec Wensman would have stood above the crowd on skates at 6’6” had he stayed on the path he took for seven years.

As it is, he is starting to stand out on the hardwood as he finds ways to make an impact with the Cardinal boys basketball team. Wensman is in just his second full season of playing basketball after testing the waters in the sport in elementary school.
Wensman played basketball until third grade when he quit and decided to trade his sneakers for skates. He played hockey through middle school before he tore the MCL in his knee while on the ice.
That injury, coupled with the thought that his body was more suited for the basketball court than the rink, caused him to shift his focus during a freshman year where he was limited to just two games because of the injury.
“I tore my MCL and then I lost a lot of cartilage in my knee,” Wensman said after scoring a career-high 11 points against Delano on Saturday night. “I knew I was tall, so I thought switching over to basketball would be a good idea. I was used to the game already. I have a court in my backyard where I played a lot of basketball with my neighbors and stuff, so I never stopped playing.”
That shows every time he steps on the court. Wensman’s game has grown from the point where he was on head coach Forrest Witt’s radar last season as a guy who could possibly work his way into minutes as a junior this winter. His progression through summer ball only added to the intrigue for a team that was looking for another tall post presence to throw at the opposition.
“He’s been a guy that rebounds, he defends well, blocks some shots, alters some shots and he scores pretty well in the post,” Witt said. “He can stretch the defense and shoot it from the perimeter. He’s been a very big key for us off the bench. His upside is still very high with only having played a couple seasons.”
Wensman said he wants to be a guy who can add a lot of rebounding and post defense for this team. He also showed his potential as a scoring threat against the Tigers.
Wensman was perfect from the field in the 67-51 win over Delano. He finished around the bucket by going 3-for-3 from inside the arc. He also stepped out and drained his only three-point attempt from the top of the key.

“He looks like he’s played for many, many years,” Witt said. “He shoots the basketball probably as well as most of our guys do, and with good form. His understanding of the game is coming along, but he works hard; he’s coachable. He adjusts well in games or when we’re working on something for a limited time with a quick bounce back against an opponent. He grasps those things. He’s a very intelligent kid and coachable kid. He’s just soaking everything in, and he has been huge for us.”
With his length and size at around 200 pounds, Wensman also gives the Cardinals some options in how they want to guard opposing teams. Senior Joe Gorghuber has defended a lot of opposing centers over the last couple seasons despite being just 6’3” himself.
Gorghuber said he is comfortable guarding both the center and power forward positions, but the addition of Wensman has given this team more flexibility down low. With 6’5” senior Tyler Owen also getting more minutes this year, the Cardinals have some length to work with.
“All the credit to Alec,” Gorghuber said. “He’s worked super hard to get to where he is in basketball. It’s definitely advantageous for our team to have him in. He’s getting a lot of rebounds, hustling hard, and it really works for us.”
Wensman is simply enjoying the process of working his way into a prominent role in a varsity sport that is still relatively new to him. He scored just three points in a game against Detroit Lakes on December 20 but made an impact with seven rebounds and two assists.
Crashing the boards, finding open teammates, altering shots – Wensman is trying to help out any way he can. It’s a process, but he’s finding a comfortable fit on the hardwood after years in hockey.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” Wensman said. “It’s a blast playing with these guys.”

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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