DETROIT LAKES – Alexandria has been the class of the Section 8-3A boys basketball field over the last three seasons. Tuesday night at Lakeshirts Fieldhouse was a reminder of that.
Despite their best effort against the sixth-ranked Cardinals (10-1), according to Minnesota Basketball News, Detroit Lakes (8-6) still found itself a step behind in a 73-51 loss. Two unraveling spans at the end of each half were the difference.
“When you’re one of the top teams, you don’t have those letdown stretches,” Detroit Lakes head coach Brett Maass said. “They’re super consistent throughout the whole game, and that’s where we’re trying to get to. We have a super solid basketball team, but we need to bring it for a full 36 to beat a team like this. When we have those lulls for three or four minutes against a team like that, it turns into runs for them, and it’s tough to come back from.”
The Lakers led 19-17 for the first time with 5:30 left in the first half. After trading buckets, Alexandria responded with a 13-0 run and took a 34-25 lead into the locker room.
“DL showed what they’re capable of tonight,” Alexandria head coach Forrest Witt said. “They’ve had a really nice start to the season. They’re very physical. They play a physical brand of basketball. We made a nice little run at the end of the first half. In the second half, we settled in a little better. They’re a good team.”
Alexandria junior forward Grayson Grove found a rhythm early in the second half. He scored the Cardinals’ first five points, increasing their lead to double-digits.
“We did a much better job of getting the ball into Grayson,” Witt said. Partially, our fault as coaches, we didn’t get him established there. Part of that is on the player. We talked about that, and it was much better in the second half when we worked inside out with Grayson establishing some things and opening things up for us.”
Grove and sophomore Chase Thomspson both stand well over 6 feet tall. Alexandria’s forward duo drew concern from Laker defenders.
“They have a lot of good basketball players – a lot of guys who can put the ball in the hoop,” Maass said. “Obviously, we wanted to key on Thompson and Grove and make the other players beat us. The other players are good too. There’s a reason that team is ranked one of the top in the state. They have guys who can score everywhere. Pick your poison. We keyed on a couple of guys and made the other guys beat us. They beat us.”
The sharp shooting of Alexandria’s Bralyn Steffensmeier and Jaxon Schoenrock was a thorn in Detroit Lakes’ side all night. The Cardinals got 15 points each out of Grove, Steffensmeier and Schoenrock in the win.
The Lakers weathered the initial storm in the second half. Junior Mason Carrier scored five quick points with just under 10 minutes left. Trailing 54-46, junior Brandton Marsh rimmed out of a three-point attempt that would’ve extended the run and cut the deficit to five.
From there, Alexandria went on a 17-1 run. Points off the bench from Dawson Roderick, Mason Witt and Jacob Balcome sparked a dominant end to an otherwise hard-fought battle.
“We feel like we’ve developed some good, quality depth off our bench,” Witt said. “In the last couple of games, we’ve utilized that. Teams are going to do things on Grayson – double teams, fronts and maybe zones. They’re well aware of what Chase (Thompson) can do, and Jaxon (Schoenrock) has been scoring well too. You need to have that depth, and we’ve been able to have that. We’re going to need to continue to have that.”
Marsh was unguardable at times on Tuesday. He finished with a team-high 14 points, and went toe-to-toe with Grove, a Division I prospect.
“Keep him off the glass,” Witt said of the approach to slowing down Marsh. “We know he’s a good athlete. He’s long. Our main thing was containing the dribble. (Detroit Lakes) was punching gaps hard. Keeping him outside of the painted area is a plus. We were able to do that a little better in the second half.”
This was the fourth time Maass led a team to play Alexandria, but it differed from the first three.
“I’m super proud of our guys,” Maass said. “We played (Alexandria) twice last year and lost by 30-40 at every level – varsity down to C-team. The first time we went over there this year, it was the same thing. You start to think, “Jeez, is this how it’s going to go every single time we play them?’ Tonight, I think we battled with them. We didn’t come out with a win, but it was a different feel. We could see it. We can play with these guys when things are going our way. From here on out, we hope to build on that confidence our guys showed tonight.”
ALX 34 39 – 73
DL25 26 – 51
DETROIT LAKES SCORING- Devon Berg 4, Marson Carrier 14, Oliver Quam 10, Brandton Marsh 14, Hunter Korth 2, Mason Omberg 3, Tyler Bye 2, Jake Pavek 2