Final game comes down to wire for Kingsland girls

Kingsland’s Nora Jahn defends a Hayfield player in the Section 1A tournament in Rochester. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Kingsland girls’ basketball team dropped its Section 1A quarterfinal round matchup against Hayfield 58-49 on Wednesday, Feb 27, to finish the season.

The Knights couldn’t hold on to a five-point halftime lead as the offense went quiet in the second half. Three Hayfield players all finished in double figures and combined to outscore the entire Knights roster (51-49), winning the playoff game by nine points. Kingsland finishes a solid season at 16-10 overall, co-champs in the Southeast Conference East Division at 10-3.

The second half would turn out to be the difference in the game as the Kingsland girls ended their season in the quarterfinal round of the Section 1A tournament. The Knights had a five-point lead at the half (36-31). However, the Kingsland offense would go very quiet in the second half, putting together just three field goals and seven free throws, for a total of 13 points after the break. The Vikings scored 27 points in the second half and went on to eliminate Kingsland from the postseason with a nine-point win.

“Our first half was probably one of the best halves we’ve had all season,” said Knights’ coach Steven Hauser. “We came in knowing that we had to play well against Hayfield to be competitive. We had a five-point lead at halftime, but we knew the game wasn’t over by a long shot.

“I don’t think they were ready for the energy we came out with in the first half. Later in the second half, they started to make a run on us a little bit. We were down by two points with 1:42 left. We set up a good play and got the shot we wanted but it didn’t go in. They get the rebound and we had to foul. They finished off the game with free throws.”

The Knights made 19 of their 49 shots (38%) against the Vikings defense. The team couldn’t get off a lot of shots outside the arc, attempting only eight three-pointers and making two. They didn’t’ get a lot of extra chances at the free throw line either, although they did shoot well, making nine of 13 (69%).

Lauren Buchholtz led the offense in what would be her final game in a Kingsland basketball uniform. The school’s all-time leading scorer finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Ellie Buchholtz was next with 17 points, six rebounds, along with team-highs in assists (five) and steals (three). The rest of the Kingsland roster could only add another 14 points against a solid Vikings’ defense. Hauser said the youth on the Kingsland roster showed through late in the game.

The Knights’ roster includes six freshmen, three sophomores, and one eighth-grader. There were no juniors on the team and four seniors.

“Our youth showed up a little late in the game,” Hauser said. “Unfortunately, you don’t learn unless you make some mistakes. We made a couple simple ones down the stretch that we’ll learn from.

“Hopefully, being this close to the semifinals and finals of the Section tournament will light a fire under the girls when they realize this is something we can do.”

Three Hayfield players combined to outscore the Kingsland roster 51-49. Senior forward Abby Stasko of Hayfield led all scorers in the game with 24 points. Another Hayfield senior, Emma Holst, added 16 points, while junior Ella Bauer chipped in 11.

The Vikings hit four three-pointers against Kingsland. Hayfield also attempted 20 free throws in the game, 14 in the second half. The Vikings could have given themselves more breathing room at the line, but only hit nine of those 20 attempts.

The Knights had trouble rebounding missed shots, coming away with only 30 rebounds, including only eight on the offensive end.

The Knights’ defense wasn’t as productive as usual, coming away with only three steals and two blocked shots. The Kingsland offense finished with 18 assists.

Building for next year

The Knights will say goodbye to four seniors on this year’s roster. Lauren Buchholtz, the school’s all-time points leader, will say goodbye as will Megan Schultz, Nora Jahn and Victoria Hershberger. Kingsland didn’t have a single junior on the roster this season, so they’ll bring back a lot of underclassmen, many of whom picked up a lot of valuable experience this season.

“We accomplished a lot of things this year that a lot of people probably didn’t think we could do,” Hauser added. “I told the girls many times over the last two weeks to be proud of everything we’ve done. Even after the game, I said we have to proud of what we’ve started because this is something we can build on.”