Knights secure conference title in Grand Meadow


KRISTEN BECK/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE The Kingsland girls celebrate on the court of the Grand Meadow Super Larks after a win last week gave the Knights a title with a perfect 13-0 conference record. In front, from left, are Samantha Wernimont, Ellie Buchholtz, Shelby Beck, Emily Miner, Alyssa Link and Katelyn Hauser. In back are Morgan Langeslag, Kennedy Fenske, Brooke Kolden, Alexys Harwood, Rylee Guy, Audrey Webster, Anika Reiland, Elise O'Connor and Merredith Farlinger.
By: 
Chad Smith

The Kingsland girls basketball team clinched the Southeast Conference West Division title with two conference wins last week, both on the road.

The Knights beat the Hurricanes in Houston on Monday, Feb. 10, by a score of 64-52. That set up a clash at Grand Meadow, the only team that could tie for the division title on Friday, Feb. 14. The Valentine’s Day contest wasn’t pretty, but the Kingsland girls gutted out a 47-42 win over the Superlarks.

Kingsland finishes the regular season 17-9 (13-0 SEC West champs).

Win 64-52 at Houston

The Knights played well at both ends of the floor, especially on defense. Kingsland held the Hurricanes to less than 30 points in both halves of the ballgame. Kingsland held a three-point lead (31-28) at halftime. The Knights kept their foot on the gas in the second half, outscoring Houston on their home floor by nine points (33-24) to pull away with a 12-point win and keep their chance at the division title alive.

The Knights shot well in Houston, making 25 of 58 (43%). They were effective both inside and outside. The team hit 19 of 37 (51%) shots from two-point range and were solid from outside the arc (6 of 21, 28%) as well. The only place they didn’t shoot well was the free-throw line, where they made only eight of 16 tries.

Three Kingsland players wound up scoring in double figures, led by Ellie Buchholtz with 22 points while grabbing eight rebounds and leading the team in assists (6) and steals (4). She also contributed two blocks. Merredith Farlinger gave the team scoring and defense in the post, getting a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds, plus she blocked a team-high six shots. Sam Wernimont added 10 points, including two threes.

The team did a very good job of sharing the ball, finishing the game with a total of 18 assists. Alyssa Link and Shelby Beck each contributed three helpers.

Junior guard Emma Geiwitz led the Hurricanes while Becca Rostad added 14 and freshman Sydney Torgerson chipped in 10 points. Houston hit 11 of their 18 free-throw attempts.

The team crashed the boards, grabbing 35 rebounds, 12 on the offensive end.

On the defensive side, the Knights wound up with seven steals (Anika Reiland 3) and 10 blocks.

Beat Grand Meadow 47-42

It wasn’t pretty but the team got the job done. Grand Meadow has been a tough place to play for a long time and last week was no different. Both teams had plenty of chances to score, but both teams also played good defense.

The Knights shot the ball well from long distance in the first half and built up a 23-12 lead at the half. However, the Superlarks didn’t go away, outscoring the Knights 30-24 in the second half but ran out of time before they could complete their comeback.

Buchholtz, who hit a couple of big free throws late in the game to keep the comeback at bay, was the only Kingsland player in double figures with 18 points while adding six rebounds, two assists, and one blocked shot. Alyssa Link added seven points, while Wernimont and Reiland each scored five.

Riley Queensland led the Superlarks with 15 points and Isabelle Olson chipped in 12, the only two Grand Meadow players in double figures. The Larks couldn’t generate many chances at the free-throw line, getting only eight attempts and making five.

The Knights were 15 of 46 (32%) from the field. They scored as many points from inside the arc (9 baskets, 18 points) as they did beyond it (6 baskets, 18 points). They could have given themselves a little more breathing room at the free-throw line, going 11 for 19, but did make shots with the game on the line.

The Knights pulled down a total of 27 rebounds against GM, including seven on the offensive side of the court. Farlinger tied Buchholtz for the team lead by grabbing six missed shots.

Farlinger, who went scoreless against a solid GM interior defense, made her presence known on the defensive end by getting eight of the team’s 10 blocks. The team also came up with eight steals. Kingsland coach Steve Hauser says the defense has come together later in the season.

“They’ve really begun to trust each other,” he said. “They each know what they can do as an individual and what we can do as a team. Until you get that trust factor, knowing that someone’s got your back and you’ve got theirs, it leaves you in no man’s land defensively.

“Merredith is doing a good job of blocking shots and protecting the rim,” Hauser added. “Emily Miner and Alexys Harwood are doing a great job of hitting the glass hard. Their hard work down low is giving our perimeter defenders the chance to ramp it up a bit.”

Schedule

The Knights are set to open up the Section 1A tournament as the No. 5 seed, and they’ll host No. 11 seed Lyle-Pacelli on Thursday, Feb 20. Hauser said the A’s feature one of the conference’s best players.

“We’ve beaten them twice this season,” he recalled, “but in sports, it’s always hard to beat the same team a third time. They have one of the top scorers in the conference in Olivia Christianson. She can score from anywhere.

“If we put a small girl on her, Olivia will post up on her,” he said. “If you put a taller girl on her, Olivia will start on the perimeter and drive right by her. It’s going to take a team effort to keep her in check. She’ll get her points; we just have to clamp down on everyone else.”