Randolph pulls away at end to down Kingsland boys

Reed Merkel drives for the Knights against Randolph defenders. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Kingsland boys’ basketball team had just one game last week, a tough Southeast Conference road test at Randolph. The veteran Rockets flexed some scoring muscle late in the second half, breaking open a close game and beating Kingsland 78-62.

The Knights are 1-1 overall (1-1 SEC) as they look at four games over the course of the next seven days.

The Knights had a tough road test for their second regular-season matchup. Randolph (2-0, 2-0 SEC) brings back a lot of experience from a 19-win team last season and it showed down the stretch. The Rockets broke open a close game later in the second half and won the game 78-62. Knights coach John Fenske said the Rockets are a solid team.

“Yes, they are very good,” he said. “It was 43-all with about eight minutes to go in the game. We ran out of gas a little bit and the wheels kind of came off. Up until our shots quit going in over the last eight minutes, we were right there with them.”

Kingsland shot 40 percent from the field, hitting 22 of 52 shots. They were effective both inside the arc and outside the line, with 11 two-point field goals and 11 threes. The Knights attempted just 12 free throws, hitting seven (58 percent).

“Up until the last eight minutes, it was really a back-and-forth game,” Fenske said. “At one point, we led 39-38. Otherwise, they were up by three or five points at most and we were right there. With eight minutes to go, they kept scoring and we didn’t.

“While they have a lot of experience, we’re still learning with four new starters,” he added. “The kids are still learning the offense and the defenses we want to run. We’re learning to play together as well. I told the kids after the game, we’re miles ahead of where I thought we’d be after two games. There’s still a long way to go yet.”

The Rockets led at halftime 33-25. Randolph increased its scoring margin to 45-37 after halftime, taking the game by 16 points (78-62).

Two Knights wound up in double-figures. Last year’s top scorer, Wyatt Pruter, led the team with 17 points (four of five at the free throw line). Reid Kruegel finished with 15 points, including four of seven from three-point range. Zach Hauser added seven points and Nick Wernimont had six.

The Knights pulled down 26 rebounds in the game, six on the offensive end. Hauser was the top Kingsland player with five rebounds, while Kruegel and Lucas Howard had four each.

Defensively, Kingsland had five steals against the veteran backcourt of the Rockets, while at the same time committing 17 turnovers.


The Knights are back in action on Thursday, Dec. 13, at Lanesboro for a matchup with the Burros. Kingsland will head to Decorah for a non-conference matchup with Crestwood, Iowa. Tipoff on Saturday is set for 1 p.m. The Knights return home on Monday, Dec. 17, for a tough SEC matchup against Spring Grove, one of the preseason favorites in the conference race. The next day, the boys head to Rushford-Peterson for a non-conference game with the Trojans.