Girls basketball: Cardinals recognize athletes responsible for another state appearance

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The Alexandria girls basketball bench erupts during the Section 8AAA title-game win over Bemidji on March 5. The Cardinals honored nine girls with team-voted awards after this group earned the program’s 10th trip to the state tournament this past season. (Photo by Jillian Gandsey / Forum News Service)

The Alexandria girls basketball team could not hold its regular season-ending banquet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but head coach Wendy Kohler recently put the finishing touches on another big season by honoring the girls responsible for a 23-8 record and state tournament appearance.

The Cardinals won the final game of their season after beating Red Wing 68-56 in the consolation bracket of the Class AAA state tournament. That left Alexandria as co-consolation champions with the Academy of Holy Angels after the tournament was cancelled before those two matched up in the consolation title game on March 13.

Kohler was named the Section 8AAA Coach of the Year this season, and Alexandria’s Julie Wrobel was named the section’s Assistant Coach of the Year.

The coaching staff liked the depth of this team all season, and that depth showed in the team awards with nine players sharing six honors.


Ella Grove

Ella Grove and Mia McGrane were named co-offensive player of the year. Grove led the Cardinals in scoring at 14.1 points-per game on 46% shooting overall and 70% shooting from the free-throw line (85-of-120). She also averaged a team-best 5.6 rebounds a night.

Mia McGrane

McGrane was Alexandria’s second-leading scorer at 11.7 points-per game on 48% shooting from the field and 71% from the free-throw line (53-of-74). McGrane also led the team in assists (87) and steals (114, 3.7 SPG).

Alayna Strand

Alayna Strand and Myah Kremer were named the Cardinals’ co-defensive players of the year. Kremer grabbed 35 steals and had 52 deflections, and Strand was second on the team in rebounds (4.9 RPG), while tallying 45 steals and 57 deflections.


Cate Bloom

Cate Bloom earned the Top 20 Award, and Summer Gerhardt was named the hardest worker. Gerhardt averaged 4.6 points and 1.3 steals per game, while Bloom had 40 points throughout the season, dished out 28 assists and had 51 rebounds.

Myah Kremer

Kremer added a second team award as she shared the Most-Improved Player Award with junior guard Mataya Hoelscher. Hoelscher averaged 8 points per game and tied Gerhardt with a team-best free-throw percentage mark (75%).

Mataya Hoelscher


Juniors Jaya Hatlestad and Lilly Horn rounded out the team-award winners by sharing the Playmaker Award. Hatlestad averaged 5.8 points per game and dished out 48 assists, while Horn put in 7.3 points a night and led the team from three by shooting 37% (43-114) from beyond the arch.

Jaya Hatlestad

Grove earned a lot of statewide recognition this season as the senior forward was named all-state by Class AAA coaches. McGrane was honorable-mention all state. Grove surpassed 1,000 career points as a senior, was a Miss Basketball Top-30 candidate and was selected to the Class AAA All-Star Team. McGrane was named an alternate to that team.

Lilly Horn

Grove and McGrane were also All-Central Lakes Conference, while Hoelscher, Hatlestad, Kremer and Horn were honorable-mention All-CLC. The Cardinals were second in the CLC with a 12-3 record this winter. Fergus Falls (25-5) won the conference at 15-0 in league play.

In addition to their work on the court, Alexandria also did well in the classroom. Grove, Gerhardt and student manager Hayden Anderson were all academic all-state seniors.


Summer Gerhardt

As a group, the Cardinals finished with the varsity gold team academic award with a cumulative GPA of 3.78. A total of 17 players for the team earned either gold or silver academic awards for individual GPAs of 3.0 or better.

MSHSL SPOTLIGHT ON SCHOLARSHIP ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT - GOLD AWARD (GPA of 3.6-4.0) - Summer Gerhardt, Ella Grove, Alayna Strand, Jaya Hatlestad, Mataya Hoelscher, Cate Bloom, Myah Kremer, Lilly Thul, Addison Boesl, Tessa McGrane, Maggie Anderson, Aleah Balcome, Izzy Rasmusen, Morgan Jones, Hannah Boraas, Ella Steussy; SILVER AWARD (GPA of 3.0-3.59) - Mia McGrane

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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