Knights end regular season on six-game win streak


Lucas Howard looks for an open Kingsland teammate as he fights off Mabel-Canton defenders. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
By : 
CHAD SMITH
SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE

The Kingsland boys’ basketball team wrapped up with the regular season on a six-game winning streak, with three of those wins coming last week.

 

The Knights beat United South Central on Monday, Feb. 18, during one of their best offensive performances of the year, an 84-46 non-conference win. The Knights won their last regular season road game at Houston, 61-54, on Tuesday night. The Kingsland boys wrapped up the regular season with a 66-51 win at home on Friday night, Feb. 22, against Houston. The Knights are 16-10 overall (11-3 SEC) as they start playoff action against Schaeffer Academy on Thursday night, Feb. 28.

 

 

Sharp shooting vs. USC

 

Putting up 84 points on an 11-win team is an accomplishment in anyone’s book. Holding that same team under 50 points is just as impressive. The Knights won their final non-conference game of the year against the Rebels while running their win streak to five-straight games. A lot of suspense was out of the game at halftime, when the Knights led by 16 points (42-26). Kingsland won the second half by 22 points (42-20) while heading on to a 38-point win.

 

The Knights had one of their top-shooting games of the season, hitting half the shots they took. The team was 30 of 59 (51%), scoring the same number of points from two-point range (36 points) as they did from long-range (36 points on 12 three-pointers). The Knights added another 12 points (in 18 attempts) at the free throw line.

 

It takes a team effort to establish a season-high in point production. Kingsland nearly put five players in double figures. Wyatt Pruter led the way with 28 points (9 of 14 shooting) but he had plenty of help. Freshman guard Walker Erdman continued to show a lot of improvement in the second half of the season by scoring another 14 points. Nick Wernimont also scored 14 points while Reid Kruegel added 11 and Zach Hauer scored nine.

 

Pruter didn’t just score points, he led the offense with eight of the team’s 19 assists. The senior also led the team with seven rebounds and tied Kruegel for the team-lead with six steals in the game.

 

Defensively, the Knights finished with 14 steals while turning the ball over against the Rebels’ defense just six times.

 

Rebounding has been a team effort all season. Kingsland finished with 29, getting five each of Reed Merkel and Hauser.

 

Sweep of Hurricanes

 

The Knights made it a three-game season sweep of the Hurricanes, while they won their fifth-straight game in the final road contest of the regular season. However, none of the contests with Houston were easy. Kingsland won by eight points (72-64) on Dec. 21, by only one point (59-58) just seven days later in a non-conference game, and then by seven points last Tuesday.

 

As was the case in the first two games, the Tuesday matchup was a tight one all the way through. The Knights led by just 4 points (29-25) at the half before taking the second half by only three points (32-29). With the seven-point win, Kingsland took the three-game series by a composite of 192-176.

 

Kingsland was uncharacteristically quiet outside the arc, doing most of the damage on offense from two-point territory and the free throw line. The Knights hit 14 of 32 shots (43%) inside the arc and another 12 of 14 shots at the free throw line. They added seven three-pointers (in 25 attempts).

 

Pruter led the offense with 28 points, hitting 10 (in 12 attempts) of the team’s 14 free throws. Wernimont chipped in 13 points and Kruegel added a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, plus led the team in assists (5).

 

Wernimont led the Knights’ defense with four of the team’s 10 steals. The Knights had just six of their own turnovers against the Hurricane defense.

 

Kingsland grabbed 29 rebounds, nine on the offensive end. Pruter grabbed six rebounds and Erdman added four.

 

Streak runs to six vs. M-C

 

The Knights ended the regular season with a win, winding up the schedule with a six-game winning streak. The second half turned out to be the key to a Kingsland win on its home floor. The Knights offense was a little off in the first half, but Kingsland still led by four points (29-25) at halftime. The Kingsland offense got going in the second half, outscoring the Cougars 37-26 to finish with a 15-point win.

 

The Kingsland offense didn’t shoot as well as it had earlier in the six-game streak, but the Knights still hit 22 of 52 shots (42%). Three-point shooting was the other big key for Kingsland, who made more three-pointers (13) than they did two-point baskets (9). The Knights made those 13 treys in 34 attempts (34%). They added another nine points at the free throw line (12 attempts, 75%).

 

Senior Pruter carried the load offensively, leading the team with 30 points (10 of 18 shooting, 55%), including four of seven on three-pointers. Pruter also led the team on the defensive end, finishing tops in blocked shots (5) and steals (6). Hauser added 13 points and four blocked shots. Erdman added nine points and five rebounds. Kruegel scored eight points and led the team with six rebounds.

 

The Knights’ defense finished with an impressive number of blocked shots (12). They were also hit double figures in steals (10) while turning the ball over just eight times.

 

Kingsland also pulled down 24 rebounds in the game, an impressive 13 of those coming on the offensive end of the court.

 

Schedule

 

The Knights are the No. 7 seed in the Section 1A boys’ basketball tournament. They’ll host No. 10 seed Schaeffer Academy on Thursday, Feb. 28, starting at 7 p.m. in Spring Valley. The Southeast Conference opponents played once before this season, which was a 70-37 win for Kingsland on Feb. 15 in Spring Valley. The winner of Thursday’s matchup likely will play the section’s No. 2 seed, Randolph, in the quarterfinal round. 

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