They do not play each other during the regular season, but Thursday’s Section 8AAA girls high school basketball tournament championship game foes Thief River Falls and Alexandria are no strangers.
Their 7 p.m. meeting at Minnesota State University Moorhead will be fourth post-season match-up between the Prowlers and Cardinals in the past five years.
Thief River Falls held off Alexandria 43-42 in the 2015 Section 8AAA final at St. John’s University to send the Prowlers to the state tournament for the first time.
The Cardinals ended the Prowlers’ season in the Section 8AAA semifinals in both 2012 (69-46 at St. Cloud State University) and 2013 (50-40 in 2013 at MSUM).
Top-seeded Alexandria beat Little Falls 57-36 and second-seeded Thief River Falls out-defensed Detroit Lakes 39-30 in the Saturday semifinals.
The Cardinals are 22-6; the Prowlers will enter the state tournament-qualifying showdown 24-3.
“Alex is playing very well right now,” pointed out Thief River Falls coach Jeff Loe. “They take a lot of pride in their defense, so we are not expecting a high-scoring game. They have good guards who work hard on defense.”
The Cardinals, like the Prowlers, feature a diverse offensive scheme, according to Loe. “They have had a variety of people step up and score for them, so there is no one person you can key on. They are also capable of hitting the three’s. It looks to be a great section battle.”
Section 8AAA Basketball
n Quarterfinals – Alexandria 57, Bemidji 36; Little Falls 62, Sauk Rapids-Rice 51; Thief River Falls 62, Sartell-St. Stephen 37; Detroit Lakes 54, Fergus Falls 44.
n Semifinals – Alexandria 57, Little Falls 36; Thief River Falls 39, Detroit Lakes 30.
n Championship Thursday, March 10 – Alexandria (22-6) vs. Thief River Falls (24-3), 7 p.m., Minnesota State University Moorhead.