Kingsland girls use height, free throws to down M-C

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Merredith Farlinger scores two for Kingsland while surrounded by Mabel-Canton defenders.
Chad Smith

The Kingsland girls’ basketball team used a size advantage in the post and good second-half free-throw shooting to hold off Mabel-Canton 53-43 in the SEC Showcase on Saturday, Dec. 21.

The Knights placed three players in double figures and held off Mabel-Canton to pick up a conference victory in the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester on Saturday afternoon. The Knights are 6-3 (5-0 SEC West, first place) overall.

The Knights came out firing early in the game and ran off 11-straight points to start the game before Mabel-Canton would score their first points. All-SEC standout Payton Danielson gave the Cougars their first two baskets of the game, the first coming with 13:38 left in the first half.

The Cougars would knock that Kingsland lead down to 15-11 with 9:18 left in the period. M-C stretched its scoring run to 15-8 with five minutes to go in the half. The Knights kept their lead around four points over the final minutes of the first half, leading 21-17 with four minutes to go.

Kingsland would head into the halftime locker room with a 26-22 lead. However, most of the first half belonged to Mabel-Canton, which outscored the Knights 22-15 after being down 11-0 early in the game.

The Kingsland girls came out firing in the second half, going on a 10-4 run to take a 36-26 lead six minutes into the second half. The Knights stretched their scoring run to 15-6, leading by double-digits at 41-30 with 10 minutes on the clock. But Mabel-Canton still wouldn’t go away.

The Cougars whittled the Kingsland lead down to four points (42-38) with 4:35 left. It was 42-40 Kingsland when MaKenzie Kelly of Mabel-Canton hit a free throw to tie the game at 42-all with 3:34 left. However, Alyssa Link of Kingsland answered with a big three-point basket.

It was 46-42 Knights with 2:15 to go. Link hit a couple of big free throws late to make it a 50-42 Knights’ lead with 25 seconds left. Anika Reiland hit free throws to stretch the Kingsland lead to 53-42 with five seconds left. A Danielson free throw for M-C made it a 53-43 final.

Link, who looks completely healthy and is playing without a brace after recovering from a serious knee injury last season, led the team with a double-double, getting a team-best 15 points and pulling down 11 boards. She had three big three-pointers and went three of four at the free-throw line in the second half, coming up with big points in clutch time. But she had help on the perimeter as well.

Sam Wernimont finished with 13 points, hitting three shots from outside the arc in the first half. Merredith Farlinger provided scoring in the paint, finishing with another double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Free throws were huge for Kingsland in the second half, when they made 12 of their 16 attempts (75%). It was a marked improvement from the first half when the Knights were just three of 10 at the stripe.

On the defensive end of the floor, Kingsland finished with six steals (Wernimont 2, Audrey Webster 2) and nine blocked shots (Farlinger 4).


Kingsland wound up the 2019 part of its schedule with Friday and Saturday games against Fillmore Central and Southland, respectively, and we’ll recap them here next week as this edition went to press Friday morning due to another holiday. The Knights start off 2020 on the road at SEC foe Schaeffer Academy on Thursday, Jan. 2. The following week starts with a home game against Lewiston-Altura on Monday, Jan. 6, before heading to St. Charles the next night.