Knights hold on for win over M-C in SEC Showcase

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE James Howard jumps above a Mabel-Canton defender to get a shot off for the Knights.
Chad Smith

The Kingsland boys basketball team faced Mabel-Canton in the first-ever Southeast Conference Showcase on Saturday, Dec. 21, in Rochester. The Knights jumped out to a halftime lead and then held off a Cougar rally to win the game 53-49.

The Kingsland boys are 3-5 (2-4 SEC West) on the season.

The game tipped off in the Mayo Civic Center and points were slow in coming for both teams. The Knights trailed just 4-3 with five-and-a-half minutes off the first-half clock. Just over two minutes later, Brayden Gjere of Mabel-Canton grabbed an offensive rebound and landed a put-back shot to give the Cougars an 8-7 lead with 12:16 to go in the first half.

The Knights trailed 10-9 when Luke Howard drained a three-pointer to make it a 12-10 Knights’ lead with 7:23 left in the half. However, the Cougars’ Reid Crawford answered with a trey of his own to give M-C the lead back at 15-14 with six minutes on the clock.

Both teams were settling into the neutral court and were finding the range more consistently on their jump shots. As the tempo picked up, another Luke Howard trey made it 22-15 Kingsland at 3:44 to go in the half. He attempted another three as the first half buzzer sounded and was fouled. He dropped in one of three free throws to make it a 25-19 Kingsland lead at the half.

Mabel-Canton came out swinging in the second half with a 7-0 scoring run to take a one-point lead (26-25) with 16 minutes left in the game. An offensive rebound and made basket by Reed Merkel broke the streak and gave the lead back to the Knights, 27-26 with 15 minutes left.

The lead would go back and forth for the rest of the game. Kaden Rath hit a jumper to tie the game at 37 with just over eight minutes left. Another Howard three-pointer and a steal and layup from Nick Eickhoff made it 42-39 Kingsland with 7:15 on the clock.

As the game wound down, Kingsland started showing a full-court press. The Knights had shown a half-court trap before that and had some success forcing Mabel-Canton mistakes with the basketball.

Walker Erdman nailed one of two free throws to tie the game at 44. The teams traded baskets and tied the game at 46 all when Howard hit the biggest three of the game off a Mabel-Canton turnover and Kingsland was back on top, 49-46 with 1:21 to go.

The Cougars’ Reid Crawford lined up a three-point try that rolled all the way around the rim and fell away. The Knights grabbed the rebound and Erdman hit two free throws to make it a two-possession game at 51-46. However, Crawford came back the other way and drained a three to cut the Kingsland lead to just two points, 51-49, with only 4.7 seconds left.

Mabel-Canton tried hard to swipe the inbound pass and was forced to foul. Two free throws from Howard sealed the game and a Knights’ win, 53-49.

Howard and Erdman tied for the team lead in scoring, each finishing with 14 points. Howard was two rebounds from a double-double, grabbing eight missed shots and finishing with two steals. Erdman also grabbed eight rebounds and hit three of five free throws. Eickhoff chipped in 12 points on five of 11 shooting.

The team hit 19 of its 53 shots (35%) from the field. They were most effective down under the basket, making 13 of 27 shots (48%) from two-point range. The Knights did make enough free throws to win the game, but they could have given themselves a little more breathing room late. Kingsland was just nine of 18 from the stripe.

They finished with 32 rebounds, 12 offensive.

Defensively, the Knights came up with seven steals and four blocked shots.


The Knights are coming off non-conference games with Fillmore Central and Southland on Friday and Saturday, and we’ll recap both of those games here next week as this edition went to press early due to another holiday. The team is back in action with an SEC game at home against Schaeffer Academy this Friday, Jan. 3. Next week starts with a road trip to Glenville-Emmons on Tuesday, Jan. 7, for Kingsland’s second matchup of the season against the Wolverines.