Head coach Rachel Johnson’s Detroit Lakes girls basketball team played their best game of the season and were flying around both ends of the court in a 53-40 victory over section rivals Alexandria Tuesday night at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium.

The victory was the first win over the Cardinals in 12 meetings dating back to the Lakers’ last win in the series to start the 2015-16 season.

“It’s a huge win,” Johnson said. “We worked a lot on our team this week and it really came together and I’m so proud of them”

The Cardinals struggled shooting the ball most of the game, but Laker defenders had a lot to do with that.

The Lakers snapped a six-game Cardinal winning streak and handed a first loss in six Section 8AAA games.

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The teams played even ball to a tied score at 12 with 6:50 remaining in the first half.

The Laker opened up a lead with a 9-2 run finished off by a Sarah Tangen three-point basket.

Ava Gilbert responded with a big block on the defensive end and put in a late bucket on a second chance opportunity as DL went to halftime up five points 23-18.

“Balanced scoring, they took care of it; they shared the ball and knew what we were trying to do and executed just like we asked them to,” Johnson said.

Laker leading scorer Alex Bettcher pulls down a tough rebound during the second half of Tuesday's victory over Alexandria. Robert Williams / Tribune
Laker leading scorer Alex Bettcher pulls down a tough rebound during the second half of Tuesday's victory over Alexandria. Robert Williams / Tribune

DL held a lead of double figures for much of the second half. Alexandria closed to a 38-30 deficit on a pair of Lilly Thul free throws with 7:13 remaining in the game.

The Lakers were able to run time off the clock on the offensive end. Alex Bettcher hit a three for a 41-30 lead with 4:30 to play.

The Lakers used the free throw line to ice the victory in the waning minutes.

On paper, the game was a mismatch in favor of the Cardinals. Head Coach Wendy Kohler came in with 631 career victories and her team had a chance to take control of the section standings.

“They did a great job and I appreciate their competition as always,” Johnson said.

Johnson picked up her sixth career head coaching victory, her biggest of her first season at the helm in Detroit Lakes. The Lakers were playing their first of only three games scheduled against section opponents.

The Lakers were loud in their locker room jubilation after one of the biggest girls basketball victories in recent seasons.

“We’re just going to celebrate real quick and then get turned around and ready for Aitkin on Thursday,” said Johnson.

DL freshman Ava Jones (0) eyes up a shot from the arc she made for three of her eight points in the game. Robert Williams / Tribune
DL freshman Ava Jones (0) eyes up a shot from the arc she made for three of her eight points in the game. Robert Williams / Tribune

Bettcher led all scorers with 18 points. DL had eight players on a balanced scoresheet. Jacee Hauser, Tangen, and Ava Jones all had eight points.

Mataya Hoelscher led Alexandria (7-3) with 12 points.

Detroit Lakes (6-4) looks for a three-game winning streak for the first time this season at Aitkin (3-7) Thursday, Feb. 18.

Detroit Lakes 53, Alexandria 40

ALX 18 22 - 40

DET 23 30 - 53

ALX - Jaya Hatlestad 4, Morgan Jones 4, Myah Kremer 2, Cate Bloom 4, Mataya Hoelscher 12, Alayna Strand 5, Lilly Horn 6, Lily Thul 3.

DET - Ava Jones 8, Abby Larson 5, Grace Gunderson 2, Maddy Bowers 2, Alex Bettcher 18, Ava Gilbert 2, Sarah Tangen 8, Jacee Hauser 8.