Kingsland advances in first round of section tourney

Zach Hauser lays up the ball for the Knights in the opening Section 1A tourney game against Schaeffer Academy. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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Kingsland boys’ basketball coach John Fenske said, going into the first-round Section 1A tournament game with No. 10 seed Schaeffer Academy, that it wasn’t going to be easy. The prediction was somewhat puzzling considering the score of the regular-season game the teams played, which No. 7 seed Kingsland won 70-37. Kingsland foul trouble and “in-your-shorts” Schaeffer Academy defense made it a tough matchup, with the Knights holding serve on their home floor 55-48 Thursday, Feb. 28, at Kingsland.

The offense got off to a slow start in the first half because of foul trouble. However, Fenske was quick to give some credit to the Lions (13-14, 7-8 SEC) as well.

“(Wyatt) Pruter got in some foul trouble in the first half, which definitely had a negative effect,” he said. “They played some tough man-to-man defense and were right up in our shorts. We struggled to score in the first half (just 23 points). They had a seven-point lead in the first half, but we rallied to take a five-point lead at halftime (23-18).”

After combining for only 41 points in the first half, both offenses picked up the pace in the second half, combining to score 62 points. The Knights held a two-point advantage after the halftime break (32-30). The lack of scoring in the first half wasn’t due to a slow pace of the game, rather Fenske said both teams just played good defense.

“It was a little more physical than normal as the referees were letting some things go a little more in the playoffs,” Fenske recalled. “The problem was Schaeffer was playing full-court, man-to-man defense and we were dropping back into a 2-3 zone defense. In spite of that, at one point in the second half, we had nine team fouls while they had one.

“I’m not taking anything away from Schaeffer either,” Fenske added. “The kid that led them in scoring (junior forward Nic Sanger) really ate us up inside a little bit. (Reid) Kruegel really stepped up an played well for us when we had to keep Pruter on the bench.”

Pruter, the Knights’ leading scorer, picked up his fourth foul roughly five minutes into the second half so he had to sit for a while. However, Fenske said the senior did return late in the game to hit some big shots.

Kruegel led the way with 19 points, along with team-highs in rebounds (six) and steals (four). Walker Erdman finished with 10 points. Pruter added nine points and three rebounds, and Hauser also scored nine while grabbing three boards. The team hit 18 of 49 shots (46%). The Knights also helped themselves at the free throw line by hitting 11of 13 attempts (84%).

“We were happy with how the boys played defense too,” Fenske said. “We held them to 37 the first time we played but they’d seen us once, so they probably knew a little more about what to expect.”


The competition level steps up a great deal in the quarterfinal round of the Section 1A tournament. The No. 7 seed Knights were scheduled to head to Rochester and face No. 2 Seed Randolph (24-2) on Monday night, March 4. They’ve seen the Rockets once and came up short in the regular-season game 78-62 back in early December. Fenske says the Rockets aren’t shy about hoisting up shots from long distance.

“The first time we played them, they hit 14 three-pointers on us,” he said. “One of their guys had four, with no one else on their roster having more than two treys. They have a lot of guys that can shoot. At one point during a timeout, I told the boys we need to cover the guy with the headband on.

“As the timeout ended, three more of their guys came out with headbands,” he said with a laugh.

The game was played after this edition of the Tribune went to press. If the Knights won, they will advance to the semifinals Saturday, March 9, 6:30 p.m., at Mayo Civic Auditorium to face the winner of the game between No. 3 seed Rushford-Peterson and No. 6 seed Grand Meadow. The title game is in Mayo Civic Arena Thursday, March 14. Top seed Spring Grove was scheduled to play No. 8 Houston Tuesday while No. 4 Hayfield and No. 5 Blooming Prairie was to square off in the other Section 1A games Tuesday.