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Alex girls' state title bid ends in semifinals

Alexandria senior Kayla Feldhake goes up for a layup Thursday in the state tournament semifinal game against Orono. Feldhake finished the contest with nine points, but the Cardinals fell 50-34. Ryan Pietruszewski/Forum News Service

The Alexandria girls basketball team’s hopes for a state title came to an end Thursday with a 50-34 loss to Orono in the Class-3A State Tournament semifinals.

The Section 8AAA champion Cardinals (26-5) held their own in the first half and went into the intermission losing by only a 24-20 deficit, but the Spartans came out strong after the break and outscored Alexandria 16-5 in the opening nine minutes of the second half and didn’t look back.

The Spartans outscored Alexandria 26-14 in the second half to take the win.

Just four Spartans found the hoop in the contest. Senior and Yale commit Tori Andrew led the offense with 18 points and five assists. Natalie Smaron added 14 points, 13 rebounds and five steals, while Madeline Loder tallied 10 points and Mattea Rice added eight.

Andrew and Smaron accounted for all 24 of Orono’s first-half points.

“I had no idea we only had two scorers,” Spartans head coach Lavesa Glover-Verhagen said. “At the time when I looked up I went, ‘oh no, what are we doing here.’ It was just a shock to me that it was only two people. It didn’t feel that way until you looked up. I thought we moved the ball around well.”

For the Cardinals, senior Kara Thomson came off the bench and shot 3-for-3 from three-point range for nine points, which was a big reason Orono was within reach at the half.

Thomson and Kayla Feldhake each finished with nine points on the game to lead the Alex offense.

“We felt like we were where we needed to be at halftime, and I thought we made some good adjustments offensively in the second half,” Alexandria head coach Wendy Kohler said. “But we were rushing our shots and we weren’t confident in that high post area and struggled a little bit on the boards.

Alexandria will play the Academy of Holy Angels at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 18 at Concordia University for third place.

The Spartans' win advances them to their first-ever state title appearance. They play third-seeded Winona, which beat Holy Angels 58-43 in the semifinal round, at 6 p.m. at Williams Arena.

ORO  24 26 — 50

ALX   20 14 — 34

ALX - Feldhake 9, Thomson 9, Kohler 4, Ziegler 3, Olson-Rodel 3, Schmidt 2, Duwenhoegger 2, Slagle 2 points.

ORO - Andrew 18, Smaron 14, Loder 10, Rice 8.