Kingsland girls wrap up two season sweeps


CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Ellie Buchholtz shoots a free throw to score her 1,000th point in front of a home crowd Friday against Lanesboro.
By: 
Chad Smith

The Kingsland girls basketball team has won six of its last eight games, including two straight victories against conference opponents last week.

The Knights hit the road and beat LeRoy-Ostrander 67-26 on Tuesday, Jan. 21, to take the regular-season series from the Cardinals. Back home in Spring Valley on Friday, Jan. 24, the Knights beat Lanesboro 71-55, sweeping the season series on a record-setting night for Ellie Buchholtz, who made her 1,000th point. The Kingsland girls are 12-7 overall and unbeaten in the Southeast Conference West Division (7-0).

Strong start vs. L-O

The Kingsland girls went on the road and grabbed a regular-season sweep of the Cardinals. After taking the first game in Spring Valley 67-29 on Dec. 10, Kingsland took the suspense out of this game early, hitting five three-point baskets in the first half while taking a 41-17 halftime lead. The Knights added three more treys in the second half as some of the younger players saw time on the varsity floor, outscoring the Cardinals 26-9 on the way to an SEC win.

“I was really proud of how we came out right at the start and played hard,” said Kingsland coach Steve Hauser. “We put on a three-quarter-court trap that worked pretty well, got us some steals, and got us going.

 “We started slowly during the Randolph and Hayfield games and we needed a pick-me-up to guard against that. We changed our style defensively a bit to help us get going quicker and it worked well. The girls jumped out to a quick lead and everyone contributed.”

Ellie Buchholtz outscored the Cardinals all by herself, finishing with a game-high 27 points, including three baskets from outside the arc, along with seven rebounds and four assists. She had an impact on the other end of the floor as well, leading the team with five steals and adding a blocked shot.

Sam Wernimont added 14 points (two three-pointers), three rebounds, and two assists. Alyssa Link chipped in nine points on three treys. Merredith Farlinger added seven points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

Senior guard Libertee Smalley led LeRoy-Ostrander with 12 of the team’s 26 points. Hauser said the team’s defensive efforts are improving every night.

“Our on-the-ball defense is still a work-in-progress,” he said. “Our help defense is very good. We do a good job of helping when people get beat. What we need to work on is getting beaten less often in one-on-one matchups.”

The Knights shot well against L-O, making 28 of 63 (44%) shots. Seven of their made baskets came from outside the arc, where Kingsland shot 27 percent (7 of 26). The only place the Knights didn’t shoot well was at the free-throw line, where they made just three of nine (33%) attempts.

The team rebounding total wasn’t particularly large, due in big part to the fact that Kingsland shot so well. The Knights pulled down a total of 39 missed shots, almost half of which (18, 46%) came on the offensive end of the floor. Emily Miner contributed six rebounds to the team total.

Farlinger also contributed heavily on the defensive side, leading the team with five blocked shots and getting two steals. The team finished with 17 combined steals, one of its highest totals of the season. The Knights also blocked eight shots.

Two-for-two vs. Lanesboro

The Kingsland girls made it two-for-two last week in season sweeps, taking the regular-season series from Lanesboro 71-55. The Knights beat the Burros in the season opener 60-28 on Nov. 22.

The return match was a record-setting night for junior Ellie Buchholtz, who scored her 1,000th career point on a second-half free throw while leading the team to a 16-point Southeast Conference win.

 “I don’t think casual basketball fans know just how much work it takes to make 1,000 points,” Hauser said. “Especially in your junior season. Players typically get around 26 games a season. If you get 52 games in your first two seasons and average 10 points a game, you’re only at 500 points. Most freshmen and sophomores won’t get near that total. To get 1,000 points in your junior year is a big accomplishment.”

Buchholtz led all scorers with her second-straight 26-point output (7 for 8 free throws) while completing a double-double with 10 rebounds. She led the team in assists (6) and steals (4) while blocking one shot.

Wernimont chipped in 11 points (three three-pointers), while Farlinger had a double-double with 10 points and tied Buchholtz for the team-lead with 10 rebounds. Audrey Webster scored eight points, with Link and Anika Reiland adding seven points each.

The team made 26 of 66 (39%) shots but were especially sharp outside the arc. The Knights torched the nets from long distance and made nine of 16 three-point tries (sparkling 56%). Kingsland also made 10 of their 17 free throws.

Jesse Schreiber topped Lanesboro with 15 points and Brielle Ruen added 11.

The defense came up with 15 steals (Reiland 3, Webster 2, Alexys Harwood 2) and eight blocks (Farlinger 5).

Schedule

The week already began with a non-conference home game against Chatfield on Monday, Jan. 27. The Knights are on the road the next night to play at Rushford-Peterson Tuesday, Jan. 28. Friday night, Jan. 31, the Knights host Lyle/Pacelli and look for a season sweep after they beat the Athletics 58-39 on Dec. 17. They travel to Blooming Prairie for a non-conference matchup on Monday, Feb. 3.

“We’re unbeaten in the SEC right now,” Hauser said. “Am I a little surprised? Yes I am. We’re actually a year ahead of where I thought we’d be at this point. We’ve got three weeks left in the season so there’s a long way to go yet.”