Girls basketball: Fast start propels Orono over Alexandria

The Alexandria girls aiming to have a good, quick turnaround after a loss to Orono on Saturday.

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Alexandria's Kate Hennessy (43) tries to make a pass from the block during the first half Alexandria's game against Orono on Feb. 4, 2023. Orono won the game 76-52.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA - The Alexandria girls basketball team, who is the No. 5 ranked team in Class AAA (Minnesota Basketball News poll), took an 11-game winning streak into its battle with the Orono Spartans on Saturday at the Breakdown's Winter Lakes Classic.

Orono got off to a good start, as it led 21-3 midway through the first half. While Alexandria did find a rhythm as the game wore on, Orono earned the 76-52 win.

"We've figured out what we need to work on," Alexandria head coach Wendy Kohler said. "We just didn't play well against a very good Orono team. We were prepared. We're just disappointed with this loss on our home floor. It didn't help that our shots weren't falling. And it just kind of snowballed on us. This might end up being the best thing that could've happened to us."

Orono held Alexandria to 14 points in the first half. However, Alexandria got things going a bit in the second with 38 points.

"We played much better in the second half than we did in the first half," Kohler said. "We need to do a better job of creating better shots."


John's Hopkins commit Lauren Knudson led the Orono (9-9) offense, along with Mya Moore, as they both had 20 points on the night.

The Spartans had a strong second half as well, scoring 42 points.

Orono made 15 three-pointers in the game, and knocked down nine out of its 10 free throw attempts.

Alexandria made eight three-pointers in the win while knocking down 10 out of its 17 free throw attempts.

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Alexandria's MaCee Linow puts up a floater during the first half of Alexandria's game at the Winter Lakes Classic in Alexandria on Feb. 4, 2023. Linow had three points in the win.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Orono now joins Becker as the two teams who have scored more than 70 points in a game (both scored 76) against Alexandria (15-4) this season.

Coming into Saturday's game, the Cardinals had held 10 of their last 11 opponents to less than 50 points.

Hadley Thul led the Alexandria offense with 18 points on Saturday, while Chloe Scholl had 10 points.

Freshman Kate Hennessy made some nice energy plays in Saturday's game and has stepped up in the starting lineup with senior Morgan Seesz out with an injury for the last couple of games.


"She's young, and she's stepped in well," Kohler said of Hennessy. "It's tough not having Morgan in the lineup, but Kate's athletic, and she got a ton of rebounds in this game. She did a lot of nice things for us as well. This is a silver lining to us, a kid getting a lot of great experience. And that will only complement us when we get Morgan back."

Kohler said they could get Seesz back in the lineup next week.

Saturday's loss was the Cardinals' first at home this season, and they are now 7-1 at home so far this season.

The Cardinals are confident that they can quickly move on and learn from this game.

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Alexandria's Hadley Thul looks for an open teammate to pass to during the second half of a game at the Breakdown's Winter Lakes Classic on Feb. 4, 2023, against Orono. Thul had a team-high 18 points in the team's 76-52 loss.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

"I think this got the girls' attention," Kohler said. "They know what they need to work on; they're frustrated and upset about their performance. They put a lot of time into their game, and they've had a great season. That certainly doesn't change anything. We want this competition. Orono is a great team. They're very good. They're very skilled; they can shoot it, and that will only make us better."

The Cardinals are in the midst of a great season. They've already surpassed their 2021-22 season win total of 12 and have done so in convincing fashion.

They currently are the No. 1 team in the Central Lakes Conference, as they have a 10-0 record in conference games. The Cardinals are the highest-rated Section 8AAA team in the Class AAA QRF rankings on and are 5-1 in section games. The Cardinals came into the night as the second-highest-rated team in Class AAA.

Saturday's game was the first of what will be six home games in the month of February.


Alexandria now turns its attention to Marshall (15-6). Marshall is on a hot streak, as it has won nine out of its last ten.

Alexandria plays on the road at Marshall on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.

Orono - 34 42 - 76

Alexandria - 14 38 - 52

ORONO SCORING - Lauren Knudson, 20 points, Mya Moore, 20 points; Pressley Watkins, 12 points; Evie Kompelien, 2 points; Rae Pearce, 9 points; Kayla Kallenbach, 11 points; Evelyn Miller, 2 points

ALEXANDRIA SCORING - Ella Steussy, 9 points; Hadley Thul, 18 points; Chloe Scholl, 10 points; MaCee Linow, 3 points; Allie Haabala, 2 points; Kaia Emter, 3 points; Kate Hennessy, 2 points; McKinley Hoelscher, 3 points

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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