Knights end season vs. Randolph in section tourney

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Wyatt Pruter puts up a shot for the Knights in tight Randolph defense.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Reid Kruegel shoots from outside for the Knights in the Section 1A game against Randolph.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Bradyn Willford, left, and Kingsland teammate Jacob Welch surround a Randolph player in the Section 1A tournament. Kingsland’s Reid Kruegel is to the right.
By : 
Chad Smith
Spring Valley Tribune

The Kingsland boys’ basketball team had its season end in the second round of the Section 1A tournament. The No. 7 seeded Knights lost to hot-shooting No. 2 seed Randolph by a score of 78-40 on Monday, March 4, in Rochester. The Knights finish a solid campaign at 17-11 on the season.

Going into the game, the Knights knew they were in for a tough one against the second seed as the Rockets came into the game with 24 wins. The No. 7 seed Knights couldn’t match the Rockets’ offensive production in the first half and found themselves trailing at halftime by 15 points (34-19). Things didn’t get better in the second half, which Randolph controlled by scoring 44 points and allowing 21 to Kingsland.

Randolph (25-2) was a tough matchup for Kingsland this year. The 38-point loss was by far the biggest of the season for the Kingsland boys. The second-biggest defeat also came at the hands of Randolph, a 16-point loss (78-62) in Spring Valley back on Dec. 7. The Knights also dropped a game to Zumbrota-Mazeppa by 16 points (75-59)

Any team is tough to beat when its players hit just about six of every 10 shots they take. The Rockets torched the nets by hitting 30 of their 53 shots (57%). Randolph was an unbelievable 17 for 24 shooting in the second half, making sure that the Knights never had a chance to even try getting back into the game.

Offense was hard to come by against the talented Rockets’ defense. Reid Kruegel led the Knights with 11 points (three treys) during his final game in a Kingsland uniform. Leading scorer Wyatt Pruter was held to just 10 points on a rough shooting night for the senior (1 for 12). Nick Wernimont added seven points and Lucas Howard added five.

The Knights shot well from outside the three-point line for most of the season, but went ice-cold against the Rockets defense, draining just five of 29 attempts (17%). Overall, Kingsland hit just 10 of 51 shots (19%). The Knights’ best shooting percentage came at the free throw line (62%), where the team was 15 of 24.

Randolph all-conference senior forward Carsyn Gunderson was terrific, leading all scorers with 26 points, including three three-point baskets, and grabbing five rebounds. The two-time all-conference winner (Honorable Mention, First Team) was helped out by Joey Erickson’s 17 points, including three treys, and a team-high eight rebounds.

The Knights finished their final game with 20 rebounds, five steals, and 12 turnovers.

Looking ahead

The team will say goodbye to eight seniors, several of whom played extensive minutes this season. Leading scorer Pruter has played his last game for the Knights, as have Wernimont, Kruegel, Brady Wilford, Joshua Warren, Austin Stephans, Reese Wolf and Jacob Welch.

Juniors eligible to return next year as seniors include Zach Hauser, Nate Lund, Lucas Howard, Reed Merkel and Brady Musel. Walker Erdman, just a freshman this season who contributed valuable points, is also eligible to return as a sophomore next season.