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Boys basketball roundup: Alexandria bounces right back; Hancock wins 6A battle with Ashby

Alexandria head coach Forrest Witt loved the effort of his guys a night after they suffered what was likely the worst loss of their season at St. Cloud Tech as the Cardinals get a Class 4A win over Moorhead on Tuesday.

Grayson Grove
Alexandria sophomore Grayson Grove floats to the bucket for a layup in a game against Detroit Lakes on Jan. 25, 2022. Grove had 20 points and 6 rebounds and was part of a big game with senior Erik Hedstrom in the paint for the Cardinals when they beat Moorhead in a 59-49 final on March 1.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — The Alexandria boys basketball team played what was likely its worst game of the season in a 90-62 loss at St. Cloud Tech on Monday. A day later, the Cardinals bounced right back to get a win over a winning Class 4A team with Moorhead in town.

The Spuds (13-12) led early, but Alexandria went on a run to take a 35-28 lead at the half. The Cardinals continued to hold Moorhead down defensively as they won 59-49 to improve to 19-5 overall.

Alexandria head coach Forrest Witt felt like the Cardinals did not compete well in the loss to Tech on Monday. That, coupled with 25 turnovers, led to a long night. The players showed on Tuesday that they were not about to let a lack of fight become a trend.

“The most valuable learning lesson we take away from the Moorhead game is the absolute necessity to play with toughness and grit,” Witt said. “We responded very well to a poor start. Will Heydt and Elijah Vanderveer gave us nice sparks at critical moments. Our post play from Grayson (Grove) and Erik (Hedstrom) was tremendous.”

Grove had 20 points and 6 rebounds. Hedstrom added 17 points and 9 boards.

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Hedstrom, who scored his 1,000th-career point in a win over St. Cloud Apollo on Feb. 25, also took four charges in the game, drawing the praise of his head coach.

Erik Hedstrom
Erik Hedstrom

“Erik stepped up big in the second half when we needed it,” Witt said. “Those four charges he took were something special that you don't see too often. Most guys don't take four charges in a career, he took four in an 18-minute half.”

Alexandria now has two games left in the regular season to try to secure a share of the Central Lakes Conference championship.

Brainerd, which leads the CLC at 13-2 and is 16-9 overall, comes to Alexandria on Friday night at 7:15. A win there for the Cardinals (11-3 CLC), and then a win at Fergus Falls on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., would tie Brainerd and Alexandria for that CLC championship.

ALEXANDRIA 59, MOORHEAD 49

ALEXANDRIA - Zach Gundberg - 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 deflections; Peter Sansted - 6 points, 1 rebound, 1 deflection, 1 steal; Elijah Vanderveer - 2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals; Myles Sansted - 6 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals; Erik Hedstrom - 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 deflections; Wyatt Odland - 1 assist; Carter Steffensmeier - 2 rebounds, 2 steals; Will Heydt - 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 deflection, 1 steal; Grayson Grove - 20 points, 6 rebounds, 1 deflection, 1 steal

Hancock outlasts Ashby in Battle of 6A powers

HANCOCK — Ashby (20-3) and Hancock (20-5) matched up in an important game for section seeding purposes on Tuesday night. The Owls found a way to bounce back from a loss to West Central Area the night before and take a 60-47 game against the Arrows.

“In the first half, when we did get stops we couldn’t cash in on it,” Ashby head coach John Holsten said. “We would turn it over in exchange. We kind of went too fast at times. In the second half, we didn’t guard the ball. Dribble drives really hurt us.”

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Hancock big man Matt Thompson was fresh off a 20-point, 20-rebound effort against WCA. He had 23 points against Ashby. Fifteen of those came in the second half.

“They’re really good,” Holsten said. “We battled them. We were OK with that. They didn’t have their point guard, but their 9th-grade post (player) who subs in, (Chase Evink), really hurt us. He had 10 (points). Matt Thompson had 23. The second half he really was dominant, but we felt we did a good job against him. It’s just that (Hudson) Versteeg had 14 and Evink had 10. That was kind of a backbreaker for us.”

Jacob Cook
Jacob Cook

Ashby senior forward Jacob Cook had a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds. Senior guard Torin Olson added 13 points, but Ashby shot just 17-of-56 from the field overall.

“That’s not going to get it done against Hancock,” Holsten said.

Ashby and Hancock are vying for the second seed in the 6A-South subsection.

As of March 2, the Arrows were still sitting at second in the standings through the QRF on Minnesota-scores.net , with Hancock third in the field, almost six points behind in the QRF value. The Owls now hold the head-to-head tiebreaker if that tiebreaker were to come into play by season’s end.

Hancock closes its regular season against the top seed in the 6A-South against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (22-3) on Friday night at 7:30.

Ashby plays Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (15-8, 6A-South) Thursday night at 7:30 and Henning (21-4, 6A-North) on Friday night at that same 7:30 start time. Both games are in Ashby.

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HANCOCK 60, ASHBY 47

ASHBY - Carson Spangler - 3 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist; Hunter Norby - 4 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal; Torin Olson - 13 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal; Jacob Cook - 21 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals; Brodie Ecker - 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist; Mattson Hoff - 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals

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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