Slow start dooms Knights in first loss of season


CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Anika Reiland brings the ball down the court for the Knights against tight Goodhue defense.
By: 
Chad Smith

The first half turned out to be the difference when the Kingsland girls’ basketball team dropped a home game to Goodhue 81-49 on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

The Wildcats jumped out to a fast start while the Knights missed some early scoring opportunities and fell behind. Despite outscoring Goodhue in the second half, the Knights fell to 1-1 on the season (0-0 SEC).

Goodhue made it to the state championship game last year, losing to Minneota 40-31. Kingsland coach Steve Hauser knew going into the game it would be a tough test.

“They keep reloading every year,” he said. “(Coach) Josh (Wieme) has such an outstanding program over there. Their kids all buy into it and they know what to expect because he’s been there a long time.”

The Wildcats started the game in a full-court press, and it gave the Knights some trouble. When they did get the ball successfully into the frontcourt, Hauser said they missed a lot of good looks at the basket. Kingsland only made five field goals (one three-pointer) and four of 10 free throw attempts while going into the halftime locker room down 50-15.

The second half went better offensively as the Knights more than doubled their number of made baskets at 12, including four three-point shots. For the game, Kingsland hit 17 of 51 shots (33%), outscoring Goodhue 34-31 after the half.

“We missed a lot of short shots and easy bunnies that would have made it much closer in the first half and given us more confidence going into the locker room,” Hauser said. “I think we were a little tight coming into the game against a team that we knew had made the state title game the year before. We can’t do that moving forward.”

Ellie Buchholtz was one of only two Kingsland players in double figures. She finished the game with 16 points to go with three rebounds, two assists, and team-highs with five steals and four blocked shots. Sam Wernimont also broke double figures with 12 points on four made three-point baskets. Merredith Farlinger scored eight points, six rebounds, and three blocked shots.

“Goodhue doesn’t have a lot of size like they did last season,” Hauser said. “They’re using their speed and agility to get the ball up and down the floor as quickly as possible. In the half-court game, they shot a lot of threes that hit nothing but the bottom of the net.”

The Wildcats don’t have a single senior on their roster this season. Sophomore Joslyn Carlson led all scorers with 17 points. Junior guard Elissa Lodermeier chipped in 15 points and sophomore Anika Schafer added 12.

Hauser said the Knights didn’t do a solid job rebounding, especially on the defensive end. “They got a lot of offensive rebounds on us,” he said. Kingsland finished with 28 rebounds, only 10 of which were on the offensive end. Farlinger was the top individual with six rebounds, three on each end of the floor.

Defensively, Kingsland had 13 steals and seven blocked shots.

“As we head further into the season, we’re learning what our rotations should be,” Hauser said. “With a young team, we have to figure out who plays better with whom. We found more of a rotational rhythm in the second half against Goodhue.

“When you’re as young and inexperienced as we are, that’s something we’ll need to put together over the first month of the season. We’ll get after it.”

Schedule

The good news for Kingsland is their next three games on at home. The challenging news is those games are against three good teams with returning experience.

The Knights host Randolph in their only game this week on Friday, Dec. 6. LeRoy-Ostrander comes to Spring Valley on Tuesday, Dec. 10, and the Knights host Grand Meadow on Thursday, Dec. 12. They’ll hit the road for the Minnesota-Iowa Border Battle in Decorah to face Elkader on Saturday, Dec. 14.