Boys basketball: No. 7 Alexandria soars over Sartell for 13th conference win
The Cardinals outscored the Sabres 40-17 in the second half in an 82-50 win to kick off a very busy and important final week of the regular season. Alexandria is 13-2 in conference play
ALEXANDRIA - The Alexandria boys basketball team continued its winning ways on Monday by beating the Sartell-St. Stephen Sabres 82-50.
With this win, Alexandria, who is ranked No. 7 in the Class AAA Minnesota Basketball News Poll, increased its win streak to seven.
While the Cardinals (19-4, 13-2 Central Lakes Conference) did win by a large margin, they trailed by seven (19-12) midway through the first half. But the Cardinals went on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 19 and led 42-33 at halftime.
"We had some guys knock down some key three-pointers," Alexandria senior Jaxon Schoenrock said. "That brought us some big momentum, and we had a nice crowd. That energy brought us together, got us moving on offense, and got us a few stops on defense."
Part of the momentum shift included solid shooting from sophomore Chase Thompson, who had 12 of his game-high 22 points in the win.
Thompson helped guide the Cardinals to a 9-point halftime lead and helped give the Cardinals a lead as large as 35.
In the second half, the Cardinals' defense held Sartell senior Parker Knutson, who had 14 points at halftime, to just one point in the final 18 minutes.
"We started the game in our 1-2-2 defense, and he got some looks out of that," Alexandria head coach Forrest Witt said. "Then, when we decided to go man to man, we did a much better job of not losing him and keeping track of where he was. He still had some buckets there in the latter part of the first half, but overall we were much better on defense in the second half."
Alexandria's defense held Sartell to only 17 second half points and was outscored by 23 in the half.
Sartell (6-18, 5-8 CLC) knocked down seven three-pointers in the first half but was limited to just one in the second half.
"I thought our defense outside the first four minutes of the game was really good," Witt said. "And in the second half, in particular, we did good with getting out to shooters and just playing with really good energy. With that good energy, guys are in the right position; you're more vocal, and good things happen."
Alexandria, on the other hand, knocked down seven three-pointers in both halves.
Junior Grayson Grove had been dealing with an ankle injury over the last week but was back in the lineup on Monday and scored 19 points for Alexandria.
"We've got guys back healthy now, and it's a big help for us," Schoenrock said. "With two conference losses at this point, we're just trying to go out and play our best every game. We want to battle and hopefully come up with wins."
Schoenrock himself had 11 points on Monday, while freshman Mason Witt provided a nice kick off the bench for Alexandria again with 14.
Witt is one of many players who have provided a nice energy boost for Alexandria off the bench this season.
"It's good having a few older guys step in from the bench just with their experience," Schoenrock said. "It's also nice having a few younger kids who can come in. They're undersized, but they can shoot the ball and work their butt off."
Coach Witt expects the bench to continue providing valuable minutes for the team in the final week of the regular season and in the postseason.
"You're going to need to have that depth going into the playoffs," Coach Witt said. "While you experience some injuries, that gives some other guys maybe opportunities that weren't there. It gives them opportunities to step up and receive a few more minutes. You hope it helps you at the end, come playoff time when you're healthy."
Alexandria's week continues with a road game on Tuesday at Moorhead at 7:30 p.m. and a game at home against Brainerd (20-4, 14-0 CLC) on Friday at 7:15 p.m. to round out the regular season.
"Both those teams are tough Class AAAA teams," Coach Witt said. "It's a fun way to finish up our regular season. I thought this was one of our better all-around games in a while. It was nice to get some momentum before going up to Moorhead and then finishing up the conference season on Friday with Brainerd."
Moorhead is 17-7 on the season and beat Bemidji (13-12) 65-50 on Monday.
Alexandria has not yet played Moorhead this season.
The Cardinals lost 75-72 on the road against Brainerd on Jan. 26, 2023.
"We're expecting these games to be close, and obviously, we want to go out and beat a team with confidence," Schoenrock said. "We know these next two games are going to be tough, and we just got to go and battle from when this clock starts. We just got to get better in our defense, mainly our man defense. We've just got to buckle down, get our hands up to shooters and trust our guys in the post."
Before playing Alexandria on Friday, Brainerd hosts St. Cloud Tech (13-9, 10-3 CLC) on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.
Sartell - 33 17 - 50
Alexandria - 42 40 - 82
ALEXANDRIA PLAYER STATS - Jacob Balcome - 1 rebound, 1 deflection, 2 steals; Jaxon Schoenrock - 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists; Bralyn Steffensmeier - 5 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal; Myles Gray - 2 points; Bryce Paffrath - 1 rebound, 1 assist; Chase Thompson - 22 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steals; Mason Witt - 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block; Talan Witt - 1 point, 5 rebounds; Dawson Roderick - 8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists; Grayson Grove - 19 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block; Trevin Hoepner - 2 rebounds, 1 assist. 2 steals