No. 1 Alexandria survived an upset scare from No. 4 Detroit Lakes in the Section 8AAA girls basketball semifinals at Alexandria Area high school Saturday, Feb. 29.

It took all 36 minutes for the Cardinals (21-7) to put away the fourth-seeded Lakers to advance to Alexandria’s 10th section championship game in 11 years after a 71-62 victory.

“We knew it was going to be a good game,” Alexandria head coach Wendy Kohler said. “They’ve been playing well down the stretch, and it didn’t help us that we had four of our starters sitting a lot of the first half. That was tough, but it was good for us, though. We’ve been saying it all season long that we are confident in our depth, and it really came through tonight.”

After the Lakers scored the first basket of the game, Alexandria jumped out to a 16-9 lead. However, Detroit Lakes showed they weren’t going to back down. Each time the Cardinals took a multiple-score lead, the Lakers closed the gap.

Both teams struggled in the first half keeping their starters on the floor. The Lakers and the Cardinals combined for 19 fouls before Alexandria took a 35-33 lead into the locker room.

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Midway through the second half, Detroit Lakes grabbed a 53-52 lead on an Alex Bettcher mid-range jump shot. Myah Kremer answered for the Cards with two free throws and Alexandria held the Lakers at bay to the final horn.

Detroit Lakes did not make that easy getting within a bucket after Jacee Hauser banked in a three-pointer at the four-minute mark and Bettcher followed with a field goal to close to a 62-60 deficit.

Alexandria finished the game on a 9-2 run taking time off the clock and three Lakers were playing with four fouls. The Cards took care of business at the free throw line.

Laker head coach Tom Vagle expressed how emotional the final game and journey to get there was for the players and his staff in the post-game.

“It was not the way we wanted the season to end,” he said.

Alexandria senior Ella Grove scored her 1,000th career point in the game and led all scorers with 21 points.

Detroit Lakes was a very young team this season and got big contributions from underclassmen getting great experience in a section semifinal against the 8AAA favorites on the road.

Bettcher, a sophomore, and Hauser, a junior, led DL with 17 points each. Junior Sarah Tangen added a dozen points and junior Sophie Gunderson scored nine.

The game was the final contest for DL's only seniors on this year's squad Madison Myhre and Lindsey Moen. Aside from the pair of upperclassmen, the Lakers finished a winning season (15-13) with a roster consisting of five juniors, six sophomores and three freshmen.

The Cardinals will face No. 2 Bemidji Thursday, March 5 on a neutral floor at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium in Detroit Lakes at 7 p.m. The teams met only once during the regular season with the Cardinals winning big at Bemidji 60-39.

(Alexandria Echo Press sports reporter Jared Rubado contributed to this report)

Section 8AA Semifinals

No. 1 Alexandria 71, No. 4 Detroit Lakes 62

DL 33 29 - 62

AL 35 36 - 71

AL - Ella Grove 21, Myah Kremer 14, Mia McGrane 10, Mataya Hoelscher 10, Summer Gerhardt 8, Alayna Strand 5, Lilly Horn 3.

DL- Alex Bettcher 17, Jacee Hauser 17, Sarah Tangen 12, Sophie Gunderson 9, Abby Larson 8, Kylee Price 2.