Kingsland girls split to open new season in new conference

Nora Jahn puts up a jump shot for the Knights in the season opener. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Kingsland girls’ basketball team split its first two games of the season last week, both on the Knights’ home floor.

They lost the opener against state-ranked Grand Meadow on Tuesday, Nov. 27, by a score of 46-36. The Knights’ offense got going in a 58-47 win against Mabel-Canton on Friday, Nov. 30, the girls’ first-ever Southeast Conference win. The Knights are 1-1 overall (1-1 SEC).

Lost to GM

The Knights’ first game with new head coach Steve Hauser was a stiff test against a state-ranked team from Grand Meadow. The Superlarks held the No. 7 spot in the Class 1A top 10 preseason rankings and had a lot of experience up-and-down the roster. Hauser said the Knights had a tough time hitting shots in the first half.

“We were down 21-9 at halftime,” he said. “We had a lot of unforced turnovers too. We regrouped at halftime, made a couple of adjustments, and played like we were supposed to play.

“It says a lot about the girls because they didn’t quit playing after halftime. We talk a lot about things like body language, and about how you have to bounce back when things don’t go your way. I know we came up short, but it did prove that we’re going to play hard, no matter what.”

Lauren Buchholtz and Ellie Buchholtz (two for five on three-pointers) tied for the team lead with 14 points apiece. Nora Jahn added four points, while Alyssa Link and Shelby Beck each had two. Samantha Wernimont and Lauren Buchholtz tied for the team lead with three assists each, combining for six of the team’s 10 assists.

Jordan Glynn led the Superlarks (1-0) with 13 points and Riley Queensland added 11, the only two Larks in double figures.

Kingsland shot 31 percent from the field (14 of 45), including three for eight outside the three-point line. Hauser said, “we didn’t shoot very well from the free throw line,” with the team just five for 11 at the stripe (45 percent).

On the defensive end of the floor, the Knights came up with 13 steals (Ellie Buchholtz three). The Knights pulled down 25 rebounds, eight on the offensive end. Lauren Buchholtz led Kingsland with nine.

Beat M-C

The Kingsland offense picked up the pace compared to the season-opener. The Knights nearly had four players in double-figures as they scored 58 points and picked up their first win in the Southeast Conference. Mabel-Canton (2-1) was unbeaten coming into the game and not shy about shooting from the outside.

“We knew we’d have to play perimeter defense very well,” Hauser said. “Payton Danielson had 27 points against us last season as a sophomore, scoring at-will. This year, we made it our goal to stop her. We told Shelby Beck that she had no other responsibilities other than following Danielson and defending against her. She did an outstanding job. Danielson fouled out of the game with five points, all on free throws.

“Offensively, we struggled a little bit in the first half. We were rushing things a little bit and not getting the shots we wanted. We made some adjustments and threw a press at Mabel-Canton in the second half, picking up the tempo. We got up by close to 20 points in the second half.”

Hauser said the team was much more aggressive in taking the ball to the basket. It resulted in 31 free throw attempts and the girls sank 18 (58 percent). Lauren Buchholtz was six for eight at the line while leading the team with 16 points and four assists. Wernimont was second on the squad with 13 points (two threes). Ellie Buchholtz scored 11 and Beck chipped in eight points.

The Knights improved their shooting percentage from the opener, hitting 38 percent (16 of 42) from the field. The outside shooting improved as well, with the Knights hitting six of 13 beyond the three-point line (46 percent). The team combined for 11 assists.

Defensively, the team had nine steals (Lauren Buchholtz five). The Knights grabbed 27 rebounds, six on the offensive end. Lauren Buchholtz pounded the boards for 12 rebounds and Ellie Buchholtz pulled down seven.


Due to a quirk in the schedule, the Knight girls have the week off from game action. Hauser said that’s some valuable time to get some work in.

“We got two games under our belts and now we can work on some things in practice,” he said. “One big thing we’ll be working on is ball pressure. We’re getting beat a little too much off the dribble right now. We need to move our feet better and stay in front of the ball. The other thing is rebounding. I think we’re giving up too many offensive rebounds.”

The next on-court action for the Knights is a tough road test at Houston on Tuesday, Nov. 11.