Kingsland boys keep busy over holiday break


CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Reed Merkel gets by a Schaeffer Academy defender to get two points for the Knights.
By: 
Chad Smith

The Kingsland boys basketball team was busy over the holidays, taking on two non-conference foes in the days after Christmas and then started 2020 with a Southeast Conference game against Schaeffer Academy.

The Knights won a tight game against Fillmore Central, 63-61, on Friday, Dec. 27. The next day, Kingsland hit the road to Adams and a game with former Three Rivers Conference foe Southland, falling 79-62 because of a slow first half on offense. The Knights started 2020 with an SEC game against Schaeffer Academy on Friday, Jan. 3, and couldn’t find the range offensively, falling 53-35. The Knights are 4-7 overall (2-5 SEC).

Win at buzzer vs. FC

The Knights faced a couple of former foes from the Three Rivers Conference during the Christmas break, starting with a home game against Fillmore Central on Friday night, Dec. 27, and it was close the entire way. The Knights trailed by three points (35-32) at halftime before rallying to outscore the Falcons by five points (31-26) in the second half to hang on for a two-point win with the winning basket coming as time ran out.

Walker Erdman continued what’s shaping up to be a breakout year for the sophomore, leading the way with 25 points (9 of 17, 52% shooting). He also led the team in assists (4) and finished second in rebounds (5) and blocked shots (2). Brady Musel, back from missing time with an injury, jumped right back into form with 19 points and a team-high three blocks.

The team shot well, making more than half of its attempts (51%) by hitting 21 of 41 shots. Outside shooting has been up-and-down so far, but, led by Erdman’s four of seven from outside the arc, the Knights were five of 12 (a solid 41%). They even stepped up at the free-throw line, draining 16 of 19 shots (season-high 84%).

The Knights finished with 13 assists as a team (Reed Merkel 3).

Luke Howard led the way defensively with four of the team’s nine steals. The Knights turned it over 16 times against the Falcons’ defense.

Slow start at Southland

A slow first half of offense turned out to be the difference the next night during a road trip to Adams and a non-conference game with the Rebels. Southland turned up the heat at both ends of the floor, scoring 42 points in the first half while holding the Knights to just 22 at the break. Kingsland picked up the pace right out of the locker room, outscoring Southland 40-37 in a high-scoring second half but they couldn’t overcome the large Rebel lead.

Erdman once again paced the offense, getting 25 points for the second game in a row on 10 of 20 shooting. He also shot well outside the line, knocking down three of five shots from three-point range. He added four rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots, and two steals.

Erdman had two teammates join him in double figures. Musel netted 15 points and was one rebound (9) away from a double-double while tying Erdman for the team-lead with two blocks of his own. Merkel chipped in 10 points (6 of 9 free throws) and five rebounds.

The Knights’ shooting percentage was cut down by the slow first half and finished at 34 percent (21 of 61). They were especially productive at the free-throw line, making 17 of 24 attempts (70%) at the stripe.

Kingsland wound up with 31 rebounds, a more consistent total than the night before. The Knights also gave themselves second chances at points by grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. Nick Eickhoff and Nathan Lund grabbed four rebounds each.

Kaden Rath led the defensive effort with three of the Knights’ nine steals. Kingsland took good care of the basketball, finishing with only eight turnovers all night.

Cold shooting opens 2020

Kingsland kicked off the year with one game last week, a Friday night home date with Schaeffer Academy. The Knights didn’t get the results they were hoping for when they jumped back into SEC play, falling to Schaeffer 53-35 on one of those nights when the ball just didn’t want to go in the basket.

Kingsland only made a total of 11 field goals all game, actually scoring more points from three-point range (15 points) than closer to the basket from two-point land (12). The team was six for 29 (20%) inside the arc and five of 22 (22%) outside the perimeter. It wasn’t a lot better at the free-throw line, where the Knights made just eight of 15 attempts (53%).

Erdman was the only Knight to finish in double figures with 11 points, also getting six rebounds and two steals. Luke Howard added seven points, four rebounds, and a team-high five steals. Lund scored six points and added two steals.

The Knights grabbed 23 rebounds, just six on the offensive end. They did finish up with 10 steals in the game and turned it over only seven times.

Schedule

The Knights kicked off a busy week on Tuesday, Jan. 7, with their second matchup of the year against Glenville-Emmons. Kingsland will be looking for a season sweep after beating the Wolverines 70-58 in the season opener. They kick off a five-game homestand on Friday, Jan. 10, against Wabasha-Kellogg. Saturday, the Kingsland boys host Hayfield. They’ll start next week back in SEC play against Randolph on Tuesday, Jan. 14.