Knights open boys’ season with first-ever SEC win

Wyatt Pruter led the Knights in scoring in the season opener against Lyle/Pacelli. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Kingsland Knights kicked off action in a brand-new conference with a road win at Lyle/Pacelli on Thursday, Nov. 29, by a score of 66-60.

It’s the first Southeast Conference (SEC) win for the Knights, who come in with just one returning starter from last season. Kingsland is 1-0 overall.

The new season got off to a good start for the new-look Knights basketball team. Three players wound up in double figures and a fourth player almost got in double figures as the Knights picked up their first-ever Southeast Conference win. Kingsland coach John Fenske said they played well in the season opener.

“We played pretty well,” he said. “We probably didn’t shoot as well as we’ll need to in order to keep having success. We played defense and rebounded very well. For the first game of the year, I was very happy with how we did.”

Part of the new look for the Knights is on the defensive end of the floor. Kingsland primarily played man-to-man defense last season. As the roster changed, Fenske said the team is getting the hang of playing a 1-3-1 zone defense. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is on the other end of the floor.

“Our leading scorer from last year, Wyatt Pruter, led us with 21 points,” Fenske said. “He bounced back after a slow first half and really played well after halftime. The other guys also shot well when they needed to.”

Pruter went six for 18 from the field (two three-pointers) and seven for nine from the free throw line. Nick Wernimont added 13 points, Zach Hauser scored 12, and Reid Kruegel added nine points (team-best four assists).

“Kruegel had quite a night,” Fenske said. “He had (a team-best) 15 rebounds. That was huge. Reid can really jump. He’s around 5-foot-10 but he can jump right out of the gym. He did a great job of boxing guys out and going up to get the ball. Keeping yourself between the opponent and the basketball is a simple concept but hard to consistently do well.

“It was really a good team win. Wernimont really shot well when Lyle-Pacelli got back into the ballgame in the second half. He helped push us back into the lead. Reid Merkel took two big charges down the stretch. They went for the basket and scored, he took the charge both times, and they wave off the points”

Kingsland led the road game 32-27 at halftime. The second half was even closer as the Knights outscored the Athletics by one point, 34-33, to pull out the win.

The Knights shot 31 percent from the field (22 of 70), including nine for 35 outside the three-point line (25 percent). Free throws are a work in progress as the team went 12 for 25 from the line (48 percent).

Defensively, the team finished with eight steals while turning the ball over just five times. The team pulled down 40 rebounds, 15 on the offensive end.


The Knights schedule originally had the home opener set for this Tuesday, Dec. 4, against Spring Grove. Because of the late Spring Grove football season, that game has been rescheduled. The home opener is now on Friday, Dec. 7, against Randolph. Fenske said the Rockets will come into the game without losing a single player to graduation after last season.