Tall, young Knights open season Tuesday at home


Walker Erdman takes a shot for the Knights.
By : 
CHAD SMITH
SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE

The Kingsland boys basketball team is busy with practice as the Knights prepare to kick off their second season in the Southeast Conference on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at home against Glenville-Emmons.

The Knights (17-11 last season, 11-3 SEC) will look different this year after losing eight seniors off the roster, including last year’s top scorer, Wyatt Pruter. Kingsland coach John Fenske said the team is working hard to get ready for another challenging season.

“It’s going well so far,” Fenske said. “The kids have been working hard and that’s all we can ask of them. We’re a little short on upperclassmen with just five seniors and two juniors, so the younger guys are going to have to work hard.”

Fenske said the first week is generally about conditioning and going over the offense and defense. “We do a lot of conditioning in that first week because it takes some time to get back into game shape,” he said. “Then, we’ll go over everything again and again, so that when we hit game time, it comes automatically.”

Some of the veterans back this year that saw significant on-court time include Zach Hauser and point guard Lucas Howard. “We’ll go as he (Lucas) goes this year,” said Fenske. Other seniors back to lead the squad include Nate Lund, Brady Musel, who stands at a strapping 6-foot, 8 inches tall, and Reed Merkel.

The Knights have some size on the front line, so Fenske said they’re going to slow the pace a little and use that size to wear down opponents. It also helps to have a returning starter at point guard.

“It’s a huge advantage to have a point guard back,” Fenske said. “He’s been through everything, knows the offensive sets, and can push guys in the direction they need to go.”

The Knights are making the move from the east to the west division in the Southeast Conference. Fenske said the conference is getting things set up for Southland to debut next season in the SEC. Randolph will also be moving to the other side of the conference to make that switch easier.

“They just want it to be even on both sides,” Fenske said.

“It’s probably not the best year for us to switch sides,” Fenske said with a laugh. “We’re moving to the side with a lot of experience on most of the teams. Grand Meadow is a good example of that. They’ll be as tough as nails. Spring Grove lost a lot, but they’ve got head coach Wade Grinde’s son (Caden) returning and he’s good.

“We also have a really tough non-conference schedule too. We play teams like Chatfield, Dover-Eyota, and New Hampton (Iowa). That’s some really good talent right there too.”

Schedule

The Knights won’t spend much time at home during the first half of December. After the opener at home against Glenville-Emmons, the team won’t return to Kingsland for its second home game for two weeks. Four of the first five games will be on the road, including stops at Randolph (Dec. 6), LeRoy-Ostrander (Dec. 10), Grand Meadow (Dec. 12), and the Iowa-Minnesota Border Battle matchup against New Hampton (Dec. 14). The second home game is Tuesday, Dec. 17, against Lyle/Pacelli.