Kingsland boys looking to turn things around


CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Reed Merkel goes through two LeRoy-Ostrander defenders to score for the Knights.
By: 
Chad Smith

The Kingsland boys basketball team is looking to turn things around as the Knights begin to head down the stretch run toward the end of the regular season and the playoffs.

They’ve dropped five of their last six games after their last win on Jan 7. They lost a home game to LeRoy-Ostrander 68-59 on Tuesday, Jan. 21, dropping the regular-season series to the Cardinals. The Knights ended the week with a road loss to Lanesboro on Friday, Jan. 24, 49-46. Kingsland is 5-12 overall and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Division with a 3-6 conference record.

Slow start vs. L-O

A nine-point halftime deficit turned out to be the difference in the ballgame. The Knights started slowly from the field, as has unfortunately been the case at times this season and found themselves down 32-23 at the break. The second half was more competitive, with each team scoring 36 points but the Knights couldn’t mount a second-half charge to get any closer.

The Knights haven’t been able to muster consistent offense. They had plenty of chances to score against L-O, putting up 72 shots, but only 22 (30%) went through the hoop. Kingsland made 13 of 41 shots (31%) from two-point range. The Knights made nine of 31 (solid 29%) shots outside the arc, totaling up 27 points from downtown. They had a chance to make it a much closer game at the free-throw line but only made six of their 12 tries.

Nate Lund was the top scorer for Kingsland with 12 points, all on three-pointers (4 of 7 outside the arc). William Jahn chipped in 10 points while getting two steals and deflecting three passes. Reed Merkel added nine points and a team-high nine rebounds. Walker Erdman had seven points and a team-best four assists.

The Knights didn’t have their best night on the glass, grabbing a combined total of 26 rebounds (13 offensive). Zach Hauser added six rebounds and Nick Eickhoff contributed four boards.

The defense had a good night with 12 steals, including three each from Erdman, Hauser and Luke Howard. Hauser was solid on defense, blocking five of the team’s six shots (Jahn 1).

The Knights only turned the ball over 14 times against the Cardinal defense while dishing out 16 assists.

Shooters cold at Lanesboro

A road loss to Lanesboro likely came down to missed free throws and an ice-cold night from three-point range. The low-scoring game was tied at 29-all at the break. After combining for 58 points in the first half, the teams only managed 37 points between them. The Burros outscored the Knights 20-17 to hold on for a one-point SEC win. The two teams will play again in the regular-season finale on Monday, Feb. 17.

Again, the team had trouble scoring consistently, making just 15 of 50 shots (30%) in the game. After shooting well outside the arc in the previous game, the Knights made just three of 18 (16%) outside the perimeter.

The difference between winning and losing can be a very fine line. That line is often the free-throw stripe, where the Knights made just 14 of 25 tries (56%). That fine line was just a few more made free throws that could have won the ballgame.

Erdman was the top scorer with 15 points (7 of 7 free throws). Hauser added eight points, five rebounds, and one blocked shot. Merkel also scored eight points, grabbed three rebounds, and had one steal.

Kingsland improved its effort on the glass, coming down with 32 rebounds, just seven of which were on the offensive end. Lund and Brady Musel were the top Knights on the glass, pulling down six rebounds each.

The Knights only came away with nine steals against the Burros while turning it over 17 times against the LHS defense.

Schedule

The boys’ week was already underway on Monday, Jan. 27, with a non-conference road trip to Chatfield. The Knights return home the next night to host Rushford-Peterson before they get back into conference play on Friday, Jan. 31, with a road game at Lyle/Pacelli, which the Knights lost to 70-55 back on Dec. 17. They begin a run of six-straight home games to finish the regular season on Monday night, Feb. 3, against Blooming Prairie.