HEARTBREAKER!

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OK, the title is a giveaway – we lost, 55 – 54!   😦   The usual scoreboard photo was not available because every shot I took of it, the numbers were washed out?  If the team seems happy to be runners-up, well, it was the circumstances.  Oh, there were tears at the end, particularly among the seniors.  But they played great as the overwhelming underdogs.

2-26-13-37They played Fergus Falls for the section 8AAA title on Friday night at St. John’s University.  The Otters have been undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state all year.  The Cards had already lost to them twice this season, both times by double digits.  We had concerns – OK, about the game, but mostly about the weather.  As usual at tournament time there are always such issues.  The forecast that night was for freezing rain followed by accumulating snow over the weekend.  Nevertheless, as fearless Super Fans we forged ahead.  And, as usual too, we got there an hour too early because we had the wrong start time – just that much more time to stress my aged booty on hard basketball bleachers!

We interrupt this reverie for the latest weather issues:  The game ended about 9:45 and we dashed to the parking lot.  So far, so good.  I-94 was clear so we were able to travel at listed speed (well, maybe slightly above).  Just as we hit the Alex exit about 10:30, the sleet/freezing rain began.  We breathed a sigh a relief as we eased the rest of the way home.  In the morning, everything was covered with ice and icicles.  And the big, gloppy snow began – on and off at first, by afternoon coming down apace.  The supervisor and I grabbed our shovels and went out to tackle the slab – 5″ of heart attack snow on top of sheer ice.  What could be more fun?  I wore shorts – it was above freezing – and then went up to clear the decks, troweling off the wet and heavies.  The boys’ basketball section semifinal v. Fergus at Moorhead was postponed that night.  This morning, more shoveling – and I believe we are expecting more accumulations today with the next week projected as below normal temperatures.  This is the time of year we usually escape for a while, but this year our escape was to Boston . . . in January.

Meanwhile, back at the basketball arena.

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[Not that it was in the plan, but our early arrival “allowed” us to see most of the section 8AAAA title game between St. Michael-Albertville (the winner) v. Elk River.  I just missed getting the photo of all the parents on the court taking team pictures.]

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[As the 1st game fans filed out, I tried for an over the top photo of the Alex students and band filing in.]

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[Like the “Abby Road” cover photo, is there a hidden message to the fact that Kohler is the only coach not facing the court?]

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[You know, we’re not that far from St. Cloud.  What’s the hot restaurant here now?]

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[Abetting “The Voices” in their 15 minutes of fame.]

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[I was not going to use this photo until I saw the gentleman standing on the far right.  That is your quiz for the day?  😉 ]

girls b'ball section 8aaa

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[Super Fan favorite Shelby Iverson in the middle of the student section.  I’m sure there are some of her hockey teammates in there somewhere.]

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[Things are looking up – some of them recognize the cap brim faces the front.]

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[The pep band once again making sure conversation with your neighbor would be difficult. 😉 ]

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[The Cards warmed up on the far end from where we were located in our front row seats.]

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[Kalli underneath]

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[Appears to be Ms. Kohler in the gap.]

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[Macy on the outskirts.  She and Kendall probably had as much varsity playing time in this section final as any game this year.]

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[As our one “big” against the Otter giants, I’m not sure if Kalli ever came out of the game?]

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[Cardinal Super Fans Ruth and Bud Anderson had the foresight to sit on the side with seat backs.  That also put them in the midst of Otter nation!]

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[Nevertheless, they appear to be having a good time with . . .]

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[A little pre-game repartee.  Because Fergus has lost about one game in 2 years, the entire town follows them to every game.  Despite apprehensions from certain Cardinal fans, Alex had a good turnout as well.  Made for raucous good fun!]

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[So, do you guys like tilapia?]

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[I heard it’s taco-of-the-day at Anton’s?]

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[Thus, they’ll come with popovers as big as Villard! 😉 ]

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[Kohler visits with the new Otter head coach.  He just happened to come with a daughter who scored about 20 points on this night (Bailey Strand, No. 22)!]

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[Kohler replies, “Well, next year we’ll see your Bailey and raise you a Macy and a Kendall!”]

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[Band, again identifiable by their music makers.]

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[Oh, we’re still warming up.]

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[Mothers, remember what your mothers used to tell you about saxophone players?]

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[Don’t forget to advise your daughters – it’s probably still true!  😉  (Hey, that trumpet player on the right looks to be a student who was held back a few years?)]

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[Aaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy!!]

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[Intros, I was perfectly positioned to be blocked by Sarah!  😦  It’s Amanda C.]

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[Dani]

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[Karly]

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[Kalli]

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[I somehow lost track of Jess?  Even as they walk to center court, she’s hidden (hint: behind Amanda).  Maybe our strategy was the ‘hidden Jess play”?]

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[Amanda C, at 5’10” and the “3,” (i.e., the small forward, or the “2,” shooting guard) jumps center against Brianna Rasmusson, the Otters’ 6’0″ point guard (or “1”), a fellow junior, and they’ve been battling each other for years on the basketball and volleyball courts!  It was appropriately enough, a “toss up.”]

Our Cards have not matched up well with Fergus, the last two years.  They’re too big and talented – we can’t turn them over like other teams because they just pass over us.  They beat us handily twice in the regular season.  But after the Cards handled a good Thief River Falls team in the semifinals, you could tell they had confidence they could beat the Otters this time.  But the 1st half was a replay of previous games against them.  I think the team would agree we did not play well – we probably had more turnovers than shot attempts!  And when the Otters’ star player, i.e., Rasmusson, dribbled the length of the court and made a 3-pointer at the half-time buzzer, it looked bleak because it gave the Otters a 31 – 22 lead.  But then . . . 9 points wasn’t bad considering how poorly we played.

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[All game long, No. 4 for the Otters rode Karly like a pony when she brought the ball up – and they never called it.  So, I have to admit to being a cranky fan when Karly one time tried to create a little space, and they called her for a foul!  The nerve of those refs!  No. 4 is listed as 5’8″ – Karly is listed as 5’5″ (maybe in heels).]

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[But Karly was never to be denied.]

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[After some early nervous play by both teams, I think Amanda’s free throws were the 1st points in the game.]

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[So, just keep making ’em, Amanda!]

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[And while Amanda keeps making them, we note that Kendall (45) is in the game already, usually coming in as a pair with Macy.  Sarah and Emily completed the mostly 9 player rotation the Cards used throughout the game.]

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[Their point guard, Rasmusson (24), is 3 inches taller than any of our starters except Kalli (35), who towers over her by an inch.  That’s Jess (23) on the right.]

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[Karly gets two.  You can be sure it wasn’t a “riding” foul!]

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[It’s up and . . .]

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[It must be halftime.  I don’t believe the supervisor brought me any goodies.]

Editor’s note:  As I’m preparing this missive, the supervisor is continually screaming at the TV.  Her beloved Hoosiers are on playing the dreaded Wolverines, who from her hollering are committing fouls on every play but aren’t being called for them!!]

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[Amanda v. Rasmusson as the 2nd half begins.  The Cards had a little hop to their step!]

Within the 1st minute of the 2nd half, the Cards had closed the gap to 4 points.  And it was pretty much thus the rest of the game.  Therefore, making it a very exciting game.  I don’t think we ever had the lead, but we tied them several times.  And we played the 8th-graders lots – at one point quite late in the game, Kendall launched a good looking 3-pointer that would have given the Cards a one point lead.  The Cardinal nation would have gone nuts!  But the shot was just a tad long and bounced out.

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[Amanda and Karly put on the ole squeeze play!]

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[Let’s get a closer look at that play!  😉 ]

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[Rasmusson burned us with a couple of 3’s when we were in the 1-3-1.  The correction was – Betterman, go get her!]

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[Karly may have been giving away 7″ (or more), but I’m sure Brianna checked under her bed that night to see if Karly was still hanging around!]

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[You play defense by watching the opponent’s belt buckle.]

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[Kohler signals “Indiana,” which always makes the supervisor happy.]

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[High fives from Karly, standing ovation from the bench.  The game is late and the score is close!]

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[Karly pressures Rasmusson.]

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[My buddy, my buddy, my buddy misses you . . .]

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[Jess on Strand.  Jess played hard and fouled out at the end.]

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[Now Macy’s (11) on Rasmasson.]

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[This was to show the time left and score.  Hmmmmm?  Well, at least the Otter fans are nervous.]

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[I hope the Gophers are considering her.  She’s taller and more athletic than Sari Noga.]

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[And Amanda gets ready to wrap up a great game.]

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[Even old automatic missed one down the stretch – it ain’t easy, folks.]

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[This may have been her two-handed tomahawk dunk.]

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[Aaarrrrrggghhhhhhhhhhhh.  Dunno?]

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[Isn’t this fun, ladies?]

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[Good D leads to . . .]

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[Cards ball!]

I did plan ahead.  If it was close at the end, go to video.  Here is the last two minutes (though they take 11 minutes, of course, with all the time-outs (or is it times-out?).)  You will note Rasmusson (24) and Strand (22) in the video – they must have had over 40 of the Otters total points.  They both hit threes and make their free throws (it seemed Strand shot about 40 in the game!), but they both felt the pressure at the end – Fergus hasn’t been in close games.  You’ll see in the video Strand missed the 1st of a key one-and-one, and Rasmusson missed two!  I think they both shot 90 percent from the line in the game leading up to those last moments.  The video:

 

For the Cards, you will see Sarah Bruzek drive the baseline and make a reverse lay-up, and Amanda Christianson hit one falling down just inside the 3-point line.  The Cards had a chance to win at the end – Amanda just couldn’t get the shot off.  Amanda’s big sister, Angela (star of the ’10 Cards) was on the side line at the end exhorting the team on.  LT was there with the rest of the Trumm family.  I panned to the Alex student section, where the boys’ basketball team and the girl’s hockey team are noted, and to our band.  The voice you hear behind me in the video is a true Super Fan and the father of “The Twins,” as they are simply known state-wide.  Bethany and Megan Hasz will likely be ranked Nos. 1 & 2 in the state cross-country next season as sophomores.

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[The post game ceremonies . . .]

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[The team captains and seniors:  Thanks again to Dani, Kalli, and Jess!]

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[We’ll miss you!  And unless I miss my guess, the Cards and Otters will be doing this again next year!]

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[WE’LL BE BACK!]

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The Cards did themselves proud – and we’re already looking forward to next year.  This will be at least the 4th year in a row where we lose 3 senior starters, but Kohler just reloads.   🙂

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[And I’ll be back for 4 more years!  🙂 ]

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