Girls win conference game on road

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Lining up a three-point shot for the Knights is Audrey Webster, who made three of the long range shots against Dover-Eyota.
Chad Smith

The Kingsland girls basketball team split a pair of games last week, starting with a Southeast Conference road win at Lyle/Pacelli, 58-39, on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

They ran into one of the favorites in the Three Rivers Conference race, dropping a home game against Dover-Eyota, 73-56, on Thursday, Dec. 19. The Knights are 5-3 overall and a perfect 4-0 in the SEC.

Win on road vs. tough L/P

Road wins in the Southeast Conference are always tough to come by and Kingsland coach Steve Hauser was proud of his team’s effort against the A’s.

“It’s a conference game and those always mean a lot,” he said. “With where we stand in the conference (unbeaten in the early season) it was an important game for us.

“We started the game slowly and Lyle/Pacelli played well at the start,” he recalled. “We got out and started to push the ball hard and get some transition baskets, which got things going in the right direction. The girls played well at both ends of the floor and worked out a good road win. Any win in the conference is a good thing, while conference wins on the road are even better.

“With Lyle/Pacelli winning the state title two years ago, getting to the section title game last year, they’re a team you have to respect and play well against if you’re going to beat them.”

The team nearly put five players in double figures, starting with a team-high 13 points from Sam Wernimont, one of her best performances in the young season. The junior guard made four field goals, all of which came from outside the three-point line. Ellie Buchholtz chipped in 11 points, while Alyssa Link and Audrey Webster each scored nine points.  

The team is playing a more up-tempo style of basketball and having some success with it. The key to getting out and running is grabbing rebounds on the defensive end. Hauser said one of the juniors on the roster has keyed the rebounding efforts this season.

“Merredith Farlinger had 14 rebounds to lead us,” he said. “She’s dominated the boards so far this season, grabbing rebounds that we need to get the offense going. However, we also have guards that are rebounding the ball well, too. When you have guards that can grab a rebound, turn and go to the other end of the floor, that helps a lot.”

Hauser said Farlinger has been a pleasant surprise early in the season, noting that her hard work in the gym is paying big dividends for Kingsland.

“She’s putting in a lot of hard work in practice, asking the right questions, doing everything we ask her to do, and everyone feeds off that,” he said. “Other players are starting to do the things she’s doing to improve her game.

“If we can get some of the other girls to start doing things like this, that’s how you build a successful program,” Hauser added. “If we can get three or four girls to all start taking extra steps to improve on the court, pretty soon everyone will start to do those things too.”

One thing the team is learning is how to take care of the basketball while playing an up-tempo style of game. Pushing the tempo can lead to mistakes for veteran guards. The Kingsland guards are young and do make mistakes. However, Hauser said they’re learning from those mistakes.

“We’re not making the same mistakes in the second half that we make in the first half,” he said. “We have a freshman point guard and two other sophomores that do the majority of the work in bringing the ball up the floor. They’re going to make some mistakes and I don’t care what team you’re talking about. But they’re also learning how to fix those mistakes.”

Difficult matchup vs. D-E

The Kingsland girls were back in Spring Valley on Thursday night for a non-conference game against Dover-Eyota. Hauser said the Eagles are one of the favorites (along with Winona Cotter) in the Three Rivers Conference race and it was easy to see why. They have good size on their roster and are difficult to match up with on the floor.

“They’re a good team and a deep team as well,” he recalled. “They also have good size, going 6-foot-2, 5-11, 5-11, and 5-11, that makes a big difference. They love to press with that size, which makes it tougher to get around than and tougher to throw over them.

“Our younger guards had some trouble with that, especially in the first half,” Hauser added. “They had to learn that you don’t use that one dribble, you have to make a ball-fake, and you have to dribble with your head up too. I didn’t mind playing a non-conference game like this against a good team and learning from it.”

A slow first half put the Kingsland girls behind the eight-ball when they only scored 17 points by halftime. They did shoot much better in the second half, scoring 39 points after the break. Buchholtz led the way with 15 points, Wernimont added 13 (3 treys), and Webster chipped in 11 (3 treys).

“I asked the girls after the game what we did so much better in the second half that allowed us to play well,” Hauser recalled. “One of the girls said, ‘We weren’t afraid, Coach.’ If we can get rid of that four-letter word and just play basketball, I think we can be pretty good.”


After a game Saturday, Dec. 21, that happened after this holiday edition went to press, the girls take a break for the Christmas holiday. The Kingsland girls are back in action this week with a Friday-Saturday doubleheader. They’ll host Fillmore Central in non-conference play on Friday, Dec. 28, and then head to Adams on Saturday, Dec. 29, for a matchup against Southland. They’ll pause the schedule for the New Year’s holiday, and then resume playing in 2020 on Thursday, Jan. 2, at Schaeffer Academy.