Kingsland girls clinch share of conference title


EPPS/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS Kingsland defense halts the progress of Spring Grove's Amelia Solum. Knights, from left, are Ellie Buchholtz, Emily Miner and Merredith Farlinger. Undefeated in conference play, the Kingsland girls clinched at least a share of the West Division championship with Friday's come-from-behind road win.
By: 
Chad Smith

The Kingsland girls basketball team split two games last week, winning one inside conference play to remain undefeated and losing one outside of Southeast Conference play.

The Knights headed to Blooming Prairie on Monday, Feb. 3, for a matchup with non-conference opponent Blooming Prairie and came up short against the Awesome Blossoms, 64-49. They traveled to Spring Grove on Friday night, Feb. 7, for their only matchup in the regular season with the Lions, coming away with a 56-42 win. The Kingsland girls are 15-9 overall (11-0 SEC West).

The Knights have clinched at least a share of the SEC West title. They entered the week with a two-game lead over Grand Meadow with two games left to play, one of which is against the Superlarks. The Superlarks finish their season at Blooming Prairie, the top team in Section 1A, on Thursday, Feb. 13, before hosting the Knights on Friday night.

Knights fall on road at BP 64-49

Monday night games on the road aren’t typically easy for most high school basketball teams. After an hour-long bus ride, the Knights got off to a slow start against the Blossoms, only coming up with 18 points in the first half and trailing by eight at halftime. While the scoring picked up for both squads in the second half, Kingsland couldn’t cut into the deficit as they were outscored by seven points (38-31) after halftime.

Ellie Buchholtz was the only Kingsland player in double figures with 18 points and completed a double-double with 10 rebounds. She also led the team with six assists and wound up three steals. Emily Miner and Sam Wernimont each scored seven points while Merredith Farlinger added six points and nine rebounds.

On the other bench, Blooming Prairie had three players break into double figures. Bobbie Bruns led the Blossoms with 18 points (7 of 8 free throws), Meagan Oswald scored 15 points, while Julia Worke drained three of the team’s six treys on the way to 14 points. Free throws helped BP cement the win, with the Blossoms draining 18 of 25 attempts, which included 12 of 15 at the stripe in the second half.

“They’re the top team in the section right now,” said Kingsland coach Steve Hauser. “They have solid players, they’re well-coached, and they don’t make a lot of mistakes. At times, we played right with them. The difference in the game was we made too many mistakes that prevented us from ultimately staying with them the entire game.

“We’re working to get to the same level they play at,” he added. “We will get there someday soon.”

It was an off night for the Knights, who made just 17 of 53 (32%). They did most of their offensive damage from two-point range, making 13 of 31 (42%), while they were cold outside the three-point arc. The Knights made just four of 22 (18%) outside the line. They added another 11 points at the free-throw line in 16 attempts (68%).

On the glass, the Knights grabbed a total of 38 rebounds, just eight of which were on the offensive end. Emily Miner had five rebounds and Audrey Webster grabbed four.

They didn’t generate a lot of extra scoring opportunities on the defensive end, finishing with just six steals and blocking three shots. The offense generated a total of 12 assists.

Slow start in SG win

Sam Wernimont was a sparkplug for the Knights, who got off to a slow start in Spring Grove, trailing the Lions by one point (22-21) at the half. Scoreless in the first half, she drained nine field goals, including two from outside the arc, on her way to a team-high 19 points. Wernimont’s effort helped the Kingsland girls outscore Spring Grove by 15 points (35-20) after the break, getting the win and staying unbeaten in the Southeast Conference.

The Knights started the game 0-for-10 from the field. Hauser says the team may have felt some pressure because this was a game the Knights couldn’t afford to let get away.

“We had some tension,” he said. “I think a lot of the girls understood what an important game that was. We couldn’t afford to let that one get away if we want to take the division.”

Buchholtz formed a solid one-two punch with Wernimont by adding another double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Shelby Beck chipped in eight points and three rebounds, while Farlinger added four points and 10 rebounds.

The Knights made 22 of 61 (36%) field goals against the Lions. For the second-straight game, the team did most of its damage from two-point range, making 19 of 40 (47%). They struggled again from outside the arc, where they made just three of their 21 (14%) attempts. It was an off night at the free-throw line, where they made only nine of 17 (53%) tries at the charity stripe.

Amelia Solum was the top Lion scorer with 18 points (8 of 11 free throws). Seventh-grader Emerson Ingvalson added seven points. Spring Grove had a chance to make the game closer at the free-throw line, but only hit 11 of 20 (55%) attempts.

Kingsland grabbed a total of 38 rebounds, 11 on the offensive end of the floor. Anika Reiland grabbed six rebounds for the Knights.

Defensively, the Knights came up with nine steals (Buchholtz 2, Reiland 2, Webster 2, Beck) and Farlinger had the team’s only blocked shot.

Schedule

The Knights wrap up the regular season this week with two games on the schedule. The week already began with a road game at Houston on Monday, Feb. 10, their only matchup of the regular season against the Hurricanes. They finish the season on Friday with a road game at Grand Meadow on Friday, Feb. 14, where the Knights will be looking to sweep the season series from the Superlarks (won 58-45 in Spring Valley on Dec. 12).

Playoff seedings will take place on Saturday morning, Feb. 15.