May 29, 2024

Knight boys basketball celebrates outstanding season

Submitted photo The WCA boys basketball team awards went to (from left) Bryce Kjesbo, Mitchell Dewey, Ben Bye, Jacob Strunk, Cole Anderson and Sam Hanson.

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The 2022-2023 West Central Area Knights boys basketball team celebrated its outstanding season at its annual awards night on Monday, March 27.

At the banquet, head coach Kraig Hunter shared reflections on the season.

“I thanked an outstanding supportive group of parents, and talked about a team that made a mark wherever they went with their unselfishness, work ethic, and team play,” Hunter said.

The Knights finished runner-up in the West Central Conference with a 10-4 record while also finishing 18-8 overall, “with a tough schedule being the smallest Class AA school in the state,” Hunter added.

Some of the highlights of the season included winning the Pelican Rapids Holiday Tournament for the sixth straight year. The Knights were one of the top defensive teams in the state again this season, holding teams to 51 points per game, just 39 percent from the field while forcing 490 turnovers.

“We were known as a team that was scrappy for how hard we played and a team that was unselfish in sharing the basketball,” Hunter said.

The Knights were celebrated for their classroom efforts as well, being named the Section 3AA Academic Champion.

“One of the important things we talk about in our program is stressing doing well academically.  We are very proud of our boys to not only be good athletes, but they are good students as well.  This is a great accomplishment for them,” said Hunter.

Twenty-three WCA players in grades 9-12 earned Spotlight on Scholarship Awards, which is an academic recognition program that honors students who participate in League-sponsored activities and who have a “B” or better grade point average. High school students of all levels of competition, of every age and grade are eligible to receive a Spotlight on Scholarship certificate.

Cole Anderson, Isaac Kreft and Jacob Strunk were presented with Captains Awards.

Letterwinners were seniors Brett Amundson, Cole Anderson, Isaac Kreft, Roman Mihailovschi, Damon Sanstead and Jacob Strunk; juniors Cam Anderson, Dane Anderson, Mitch Dewey, Nasir Dotts, Bryce Kjesbo, and Brady Lindquist; sophomores Ben Bye, Sam Hanson, Cash Nelson, and Owen Sanstead.

Strunk, Anderson and Kjesbo earned all-conference recognition from the West Central Conference while Mitch Dewey was named honorable mention.

Strunk averaged 11 points and a team-high 5.4 rebounds per game. He also led the team in steals, averaging 3.4 per game. He was named WCA’s Defensive Player of the Year and Chairman of the Boards.

Anderson led all scorers with a 13.6 points per game average. His five boards per game was tied for second-most on the team while leading the team in assists per game with four. He was named WCA’s Offensive Player of the Year and Assist Leader.

Kjesbo was the second leading scorer on the team with 11.8 points per game. He averaged 4.7 boards, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals while also leading the team at the charity stripe, shooting 75 percent on the season. The junior was named the Co-Hardest worker with Dewey and received the Best Free Throw Percentage award.

Nasir Dotts earned the team’s Mr. Hustle award and Sam Hanson was named the team’s Most Valuable Teammate.

Coach Hunter also talked about the great people they had in the senior class. The Knights graduate six off their roster.

“Roman, Damon, Brett, Isaac, Cole and Jake will all be successful in life. They’ve given a lot to our basketball program and we thank them dearly for all of their commitment and contributions. They are all great people,” Hunter concluded.

West Central Conference

Boys Basketball

Final Standings

Team Conference Overall

Sauk Centre 12-2 21-8

West Central Area 10-4 18-8

Morris/C-A 9-4 20-7

Melrose 9-5 17-11

BOLD 7-6 18-9

Montevideo 6-8 13-14

Benson 2-12 6-21

Minnewaska 0-14 1-25

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