Knights score big to go on five-game win streak


Zach Hauser puts up a shot for the Knights in the game against Grand Meadow. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE

Reid Kruegel twists through the Grand Meadow defense to score for the Knights. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
By : 
CHAD SMITH
SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE

The Kingsland boys’ basketball team is seeing its offensive production trending higher at the end of 2018 and early in 2019. The Knights scored more than 70 points in four of their last five games (all wins).

The Knights ended 2018 with two non-conference wins, beating Southland 70-50 at home on Thursday, Dec. 27. They won a hard-fought road game at Houston the next night, 59-58, to finish 2018. Kingsland kicked off the new year with a win at Goodhue, 71-53, on Thursday, Jan. 3, and then traveled to Grand Meadow the next night, where they beat the Superlarks 73-55. After five-straight wins, the Knights are 7-4 overall (4-2 Southeast Conference).

Strong second half vs. Southland

The Kingsland boys played well at both ends of the floor in their first game after the Christmas holiday. The Knights led a close game at halftime (31-26) by just five points before blowing the game open after the break. Kingsland held a 15-point advantage in the second half (39-24) while on their way to a 20-point non-conference win against a former conference foe.

Two Kingsland players did a lot of work on the offensive end of the floor. Wyatt Pruter (30 points) and Reid Kruegel (21) combined for 51 of the team’s 70 points. Thirteen of Pruter’s 30 points came from the free throw line (14 attempts) while hitting seven of his 10 two-point shots. Kruegel shot well no matter where he was on the floor (six of seven overall). The senior guard was perfect on two-pointers (three for three) and missed one of his four three-point shots (six of eight free throws.)

The Knights shot the ball well, going 20 of 43 from the field (43%). They also shot well at the free throw line, draining 26 of 34 attempts (76%).

The Knights grabbed 33 rebounds against the Rebels, eight coming on the offensive end of the court. Kruegel completed a double-double with a team-high 13 rebounds, while also leading the team in assists (three) and pass deflections (six). Brady Musel pulled down seven rebounds and Pruter added five.

Senior forward Jacob Welch grabbed two of the team’s four steals while scoring four points. The Knights didn’t give the Rebels (1-7) a lot of extra scoring chances, committing just 10 miscues against the Southland defense.

One-point lead holds vs. Houston

The Knights were on the road the next night at for a game at Houston (2-6, 1-4 SEC). The interesting thing is the same two teams had just played the previous Friday night (Dec. 21) in Spring Valley, a game the Knights won by eight points (72-64). However, the rematch was much closer.

A one-point Kingsland scoring edge in the first half (26-25) would turn out to be the difference in the ballgame. Both teams put 33 points on the board after halftime, allowing the Knights to hold on for a one-point win, 59-58. It’s the third-straight win for the Knights after starting the season 2-4.

Kruegel and Pruter were once again a solid one-two punch offensively, combining for 44 of the team’s 59 points. Pruter once again led the team with 24 points, including a solid eight for 10 from the free throw line. Kruegel was right behind at 20 points on 50 percent shooting (seven for 14). Zach Hauser added six points and Musel scored four points. The Knights didn’t shoot exceptionally well overall, going 19 for 62 (30%). They did score more points from long range (nine for 35, 27 points) than from two-point territory (10 of 27, 20 points). The Knights were 12 for 18 at the free throw line (66%).

The Knights had another good night on the glass, pulling down 36 rebounds (11 offensive). Kruegel once again led the squad with nine rebounds, just missing back-to-back double-doubles. Pruter added seven rebounds, with Hauser and Lucas Howard each getting six.

Pruter and Howard each contributed four of the team’s 11 assists.

Defensively, the team had nine steals, getting four each from Pruter and Kruegel. The team took fantastic care of the ball with just six turnovers all game.

Pruter dominant at Goodhue

Back in the preseason, Knights’ coach Fenske said one of the goals for this year’s team is finding multiple players to step up and score. Well, the team met and exceeded that goal over the weekend, starting with a Thursday night road win at Goodhue (4-7). Kingsland hit more than half the shots they took in the game, going up by 11 (40-29) at halftime. The Knights outscored Goodhue by seven in the second half (31-24) to win the game by 18 points.

To say that Pruter, the team’s lone returning starter from last season, had a good game qualifies as an understatement. The senior guard hit 10 of 15 shots from the field and led all scorers with 34 points. Pruter drained five of seven three-point shots and nine of 10 free throws. As if that wasn’t enough, he also led Kingsland with five of its nine assists in the game.

Pruter wasn’t alone in double figures. Musel wound up with 11 points (four of six shooting) while tying for the team lead with six rebounds. Merkel added 10 points, while Kruegel almost joined them in double figures with eight points and six rebounds.

The Knights hit 54 percent of their shots (25 of 46), which included a very good eight of 17 (47%) from outside the arc. The Knights also shored up their free throw shooting, hitting 13 of 16 attempts in winning their fourth-straight game.

The Knights grabbed a team-total of 29 rebounds, which is a good total considering they missed less than half the shots they attempted. Eight of the rebounds were on the offensive end of the floor. The Knights had three blocks, one steal, and three pass deflections.

Fifth straight win vs. GM

Senior Reid Kruegel led the way for the Knights in their fifth-straight win, this time over conference opponent Grand Meadow (9-3, 5-2). Kruegel and three other teammates all finished in double figures as the Knights just about hit half of the shots they attempted against the Superlarks defense. Kingsland outscored GM by nine points in both halves (33-24, 40-31) while on the way to the 18-point win.

Kruegel took over the top spot on the Kingsland scoring chart, just missing a double-double with 21 points (seven of 11 shooting) and nine rebounds. Pruter was next with 15 points while dishing out a team-best four assists and adding a team-high five steals. Zach Hauser scored 14 points and Lucas Howard added another 13.

The team hit 47 percent (26 of 55) from the field. They made 50 percent of their two-point shots (17 of 34) and a solid 42 percent from three-point range (nine of 21). They also made 12 of their 17 free throw attempts.

Kingsland grabbed another 28 rebounds (nine offensive). They also stepped up their defensive effort from the previous game with seven steals (two each from Pruter, Kruegel) and seven pass deflections.

Schedule

The Knights were already scheduled to have one game in this week, a Monday night, Jan. 7, non-conference home game against Dover-Eyota. They’ll travel to Mabel-Canton for an SEC contest on Thursday, Jan. 10, and then play a Saturday game at Hayfield on Jan. 12. Kingsland will head to Spring Grove for an SEC matchup against the always tough Spring Grove Lions on Tuesday, Jan. 15. 

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