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No more tricks: Alexandria Aces in final season

After 30 seasons of performing at halftime of college and pro basketball games, this is the last season for the team of elementary students from Alexandria, Minn.

Practice begins, and you know this isn't your typical basketball team as soon as an 11-year-old boy does a handstand and a teammate begins spinning the ball on his toe.

The Alexandria Aces were formed in 1990 by Larry Novotny, a former halftime performer himself.

That first team of 4th 5th and 6th graders wowed crowds at halftime of local high school games.

Within a few years, they started performing at Gophers and Timberwolves games and other college and pro arenas around the country.

"I don't even know if any of the original Aces would be able to make the team now with all the crazy stuff they do," said Eddie Rief, now 38 years old, a member of that original team.

From spinning basketballs while performing acrobatics to dunking the ball off of their teammates' backs, the Aces learn more than just basketball tricks.

"How to learn to talk with other people, that's not just from your town," said Greta Oldenkamp, the only girl currently on the team. "When you're older, you're going to go to college and have like interviews, and you won't be as scared anymore because you've performed in front of thousands of people."

"They really learn a lot about self-confidence," Novotny said.

But after 30 years, the tradition is ending.

"This is your chance to shine you guys, the last year of the Aces. Everybody is sort of watching you guys," Novotny tells the team at practice.

Times are changing, kids are busier at a younger age, and the interest just isn't the same as it used to be. No new players tried out this season.

"I'm sad. I've really enjoyed watching these kids achieve so much. So I hate for them not to have that opportunity. But yet I understand," Novotny said.

"I wish I could be in it forever but, I guess you just can't do it forever, so," said 11-year-old Samson Hagstrom. 

There will be something missing next year. And it won't just be on the basketball court.

"Remember we talked about, for us, a win is when we put on a good show, right?" Novotny asks his team in a huddle. "Well we had a couple wins this weekend. Let's get some more here. Get after it. Lets go."

The Aces' last performance is scheduled for March 29th at halftime of the Timberwolves game. 

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