Kingsland girls open section tournament with victory

Shelby Beck gets around a Spring Grove defender to score for Kingsland in the opening Section 1A game. DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Section 1A girls’ basketball playoffs are underway and the Kingsland Knights kicked off the opening round with a 65-53 win over Spring Grove on Thursday, Feb. 21, in Spring Valley.


The Knights’ offense was clicking as Kingsland was just three points away from putting four players in double figures. The Knights earned a quarterfinal round playoff game with the Hayfield Vikings, which beat Mabel-Canton 59-44. The Knights were scheduled to play the Vikings on Monday, Feb. 25, although a blizzard Sunday moved that game back to Wednesday, Feb. 27, starting at 7:30 p.m. in Rochester’s Mayo Civic Arena.


It really is hard to beat the same team three times in one season. The second half turned out to be the difference in the third matchup between Kingsland and Spring Grove. The Knights led the game by just three points (30-27) at halftime on their home floor. They stretched the scoring advantage to nine points (35-26) in the second half to come away with a 12-point win, which Knights’ coach Steven Hauser said was not easy at all.


“We’d already beaten them twice this year, including handily (80-42) in the last game of the season,” Hauser said. “To their credit, Spring Grove came out and changed some things up against us. We’d jump out to a pretty good lead and they’d hit shots to come back. The key was we had several girls scoring that didn’t normally do so, and when that happens, it takes a lot of pressure off the girls that typically carry the load.”


The Buchholtz sisters were the only Knights in double figures but a lot of players contributed to the overall scoring load. Lauren Buchholtz had yet another double-double with 18 points and 17 rebounds. She also led the team in assists (5) and tied for the team lead in steals (3). Ellie Buchholtz also scored 18 while dishing out four assists and getting three steals. Shelby Beck added nine points and seven rebounds and Nora Jahn chipped in eight points and three rebounds.


When more people contribute to the offense, the team’s shooting percentage automatically goes up. The Knights were 26 of 49 from the field (53%). The team did most of its work from two-point range, going just two for five from long-range on treys. The Knights were also 11 for 19 at the free throw line


Spring Grove actually attempted more free throws than Kingsland and could have made it a closer game. However, they didn’t help themselves at the line by making 11 for 21. They did make more three-pointers (6) than the Knights. They also placed three in double figures, led by Alyssa Johnson with 17. Amelia Solum and Kailee Olerud each added 12 points.


“Spring Grove did some things that opened up three-point shots they didn’t have in the previous matchup,” Hauser said. “When we went in at the half, we told the girls that the first five minutes of the second half will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game. We came out strong, pushed the ball hard, and got some layups. We also made some defensive adjustments that helped out too.


“To their credit, they stayed in the game. It was a very loud gym. We had great fan support and it was a tournament type atmosphere all night long. The clock really didn’t move as fast as we wanted late in the second half, but we got through it.”


 The Knights grabbed 39 rebounds against Spring Grove, eight on the offensive end. Ellie Buchholtz pulled down eight rebounds.


The Knights’ defense finished with 10 steals (Megan Schultz 2) and the Buchholtz sisters each had a blocked shot.




When the Knights play Hayfield in the section tourney, it won’t be for the first time. The Vikings beat a tired Kingsland team 50-30 back on Saturday, Jan. 12, which was the fourth and final game on that week’s schedule. Look for all the details in next week’s Tribune. Hauser said the competition in Section 1A girls’ basketball is very good.


“The amount of talent we have in southeast Minnesota means you have to come in and play hard every night,” Hauser added. “Literally anyone you play against can beat you on a given night, and it doesn’t matter if they play in the Southeast Conference or the Three Rivers Conference.


“As an example, you saw what happened to No. 5 seed Fillmore Central, who was beaten by the No. 12 seed Southland. Any of the eight teams that were left on Monday could come away and win the whole thing.”