Cardinal girls run past Prowlers and into the section title game

Monday it was 41-0. Tonight it was 8-0 and 18-0. Those are the scoring runs the Alexandria girls’ basketball team has put together in the opening two rounds of the Section 8AAA playoffs.

Thief River Falls survived that initial 8-0 run to start the game at St. Cloud State University on Saturday night. The Prowlers bounced back and tied the game at 20 apiece with five minutes to go in the first half.

The Cardinals responded with an 11-0 run to end the half. They stretched that to 18 straight points with seven more to open the second on their way to a relatively stress free 69-46 win to secure a rematch with Fergus Falls in the section title game.

“The good teams can put in a game plan and then they can adjust,” Alexandria head coach Wendy Kohler said. “That’s huge. We had a game plan right away, and we decided to drop the press, not pick up the early fouls and be able to match up on the shooters right away instead of giving them easy looks. I just thought our girls really adjusted. That’s the thing. You got to be able to adjust if you want to advance against a good team like Thief Rivers.”

Photo by Eric Morken/Echo Press: Alexandria's Lauren Trumm (right) went to the ground to fight for a loose ball with the Prowlers' Kristyn Scholin on Saturday night.

It also helps having someone like Lauren Trumm leading the way. The senior guard had maybe the best game of her career on a night when she did a little of everything, including scoring a game-high 36 points. She almost had a triple-double as she added 12 steals, seven assists and five rebounds.

“It’s so much fun playing with her,” Whitney Gesell said after finishing with seven points herself. “She’s probably the most unselfish person I’ve ever met. It’s fun to throw her the ball and see her go up for the layup, and she comes down and has that huge smile on her face.”

Trumm is never too comfortable talking about her own accomplishments. She credited her teammates after the game on setting her up for a lot of easy looks on the break.

“My teammates got tips and they were just throwing it to me,” she said. “So I was running. More than half the points I got, I [owe] to my teammates because they did just as much work as me.”

Photo by Eric Morken/Echo Press: Junior Kalli Bowser shot over a defender in the second half against Thief River Falls. Bowser led Alexandria on the boards with 11 rebounds.

Trumm admitted she thought about how her career could come to an end coming into the night against a Prowlers team that was 23-3. If she was nervous after the tip, she didn’t show it. Trumm shot 14-of-21 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Amanda Christianson added 12 points and Kalli Bowser had eight points and 11 rebounds.

“I didn’t want it to end tonight,” Trumm said. “I wanted that extra week. I wanted to give it a shot. I got jitters on the bus ride here, thinking this could be it, but we really played together. We were just ready to go. Everybody.”

Credit could be given all around on a night when Alexandria did almost everything right. The Cardinals shot 54 percent from the field (26-50), outrebounded Thief River Falls 31-20 and had 19 steals.

That defense made just getting shots hard to come by for the Prowlers. Thief River Falls didn’t shoot that poorly from the field, connecting on 46 percent. The problem was 29 turnovers. Alexandria took 11 more shots than the Prowlers, many of which were easy looks on the break after creating takeaways.

“I think we worked really hard as a team,” Gesell said. “I think that contributed to it a lot. We pushed the ball really well. Everyone ran the court really hard.”

That set up the rematch of last year’s section title game with Fergus Falls. The Otters made easy work of Sartell in game one at SCSU, beating the Sabres 61-43 to move to 27-1 on the season.

Things look a lot like last year heading into the match-up. The Otters won both regular season games these two teams played last season. The same thing happened this year as Fergus Falls won the two games by a combined 28 points.

The Cardinals are hoping for a similar result in game three as the 46-40 win they had over the Otters in the section title game last March. Fergus Falls has the same personnel back from that game and has no doubt become a better team with a year of experience.

The Cardinals wanted another shot at them after losing on their home court in the regular season finale. Now they’ll get it when the two teams tip off this Friday at 7 p.m. at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.

“We are really excited that we positioned ourselves as a unit to play Fergus,” Kohler said. “I mean, they’re a very good basketball team. They’re loaded. They’re talented from top to bottom. We’re going to have to play a good game. We’re going to have to play together, and we’ll have a good game plan in place and take the court on Friday night.”