May 25, 2024

Knight boys comeback to win twice to earn holiday tourney championship

WCA junior Bryce Kjesbo goes up for a contested shot against Pelican Rapids in the championship of the holiday tournament Friday, Dec. 30, in Pelican Rapids. The Knights have won the tournament six straight years. Photo by Kendra Stark

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!

Kraig Hunter

WCA Boys Basketball

The West Central Area boys basketball team won its sixth Pelican Rapids holiday tournament title after two come-from-behind victories last week. The Knights beat Battle Lake in nail-biter, 67-66, to advance to the championship where they made a 10-3 run in the final one minute 40 seconds to claim a 64-62 victory.

The Knights, now 6-1 and on a six-game winning streak, open 2023 against Barnesville Tuesday, Jan. 3, in Barrett. WCA will also play host to Sauk Centre Thursday, Jan. 5 and Minnewaska Friday, Jan. 6 to continue the West Central Conference season.

WCA 67

Battle Lake 66

The WCA Knights won a 67-66 nail biter over the previously unbeaten Battle Lake Battlers.  The Knights withstood the Battlers making 14 three-pointers and were down nine with two minutes to play.

The teams were tied at 24-24 when Battle Lake finished the half on a 14-4 run to end the half taking a 38-28 lead at the break.

Knights Coach Kraig Hunter said, “For us to win that game with them making fourteen threes is a testament to our kids. Hats off to Battle Lake, they are a team that is, big, athletic and has multiple shooters and they played a great game. Our kids were scrapping and working to come back and we’d get it to five points on several occasions and Battle Lake would come back and knock down more threes. Our team doesn’t have a lot is size, but they are winners and they believe. They are smart and poised. We made a lot of clutch plays on both ends in the last two or three minutes.”

Mitch Dewey, Nas Dotts and Jake Strunk all hit clutch 3’s down the stretch and Cole Anderson hit a bucket with twenty-eight seconds left to give the Knights a 65-64 lead. Braydyn Roisum put the Battlers back in the lead with sixteen seconds left and then Anderson hit the game winner with 2.1 seconds  left to give the Knights the 67-66 win.

Anderson had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Bryce Kjesbo was solid all night scoring 16 points along with 4 rebounds. Jacob Strunk had 12 points, 6 rebounds, was the steals leader with 5 and also added 4 assists. Nas Dotts had 9 points hitting 3-3 threes. Mitch Dewey added 6 points and 4 assists. Ben Bye had 4 points and 2 rebounds, Brett Amundson had 1 point and Sam

Hanson added 2 rebounds and 2 steals.

Jack Mekalson led Battle Lake with 21 points on 5-7 threes, Mason Dalluge had 17 points on 3-5 threes, Owen Buehler had 15 points including three 3’s, Drew Johnson had 9 points on 3-5 threes, and Braydyn Roisum added 4 points.

The Knights shot 25-53 for 47% and hit 8-19 threes for 42%.  Battle Lake shot 24-51 for 47% and made 14-30 threes also 47%. The Knights made 9-16 free throws and Battle Lake 4-5. The Battlers held a slight 32-28 edge in rebounding but the Knights won the turnover battle forcing 16 while only committing 8.

WCA 64

Pelican Rapids 62

The WCA Knights defeated the Pelican Rapids Vikings 64-62 to win the Pelican Rapids Holiday tournament championship. The Knights trailed just about the entire way for the second night in a row.  Down eight points with three minutes to go, the Knights completed another comeback win.

“Obviously, we feel fortunate to win”, said Knights coach Kraig Hunter. “We have nothing but respect for the Pelican Rapids program. They are well coached on both O and D. Once again we ran into a hot shooting team as the Vikings hit 12-25 threes.  As I said last night, we love the resilience and poise of our kids.  We made some big plays again. Mitch Dewey and Sam Hanson hit some big shots down the stretch tonight and of course we made some key defensive stops when we had to.”

The Vikings hit 25-50 shots for 50% (12-25 on threes) while the Knights hit 21-46 for 46% (8-19 on threes for 42%).  From the free throw line, the Knights were 14-21 and the Vikings 0-3.  

Hunter added, “We work a lot on trying to attack the basket and not settling for contested jump shots. I thought us doing that and getting to the line was a big key the last two nights along with the turnover battle. Once again, we took good care of the ball and forced some turnovers with our defense at key times.”

Scoring for the Knights were Cole Anderson with 20, Byce Kjesbo 17, Mitch Dewey 9, Nasir Dotts 7, Sam Hanson 6, and Jacob Strunk 5.  Anderson completed a double double leading the team with 12 rebounds.  Dotts led the team with 5 assists while Anderson added 3.  Dotts and Strunk were the steal leaders with 3 each while Kjesbo and Anderson had two each.

Scoring for the Vikings were Charlie Larson 14, Ian Fahje 11, Luke Sjolie 11, Hunter Williams 8, Treyvon Benson 6, Brady Petznick 6, Tanner Tollerud 3, and Ethan Sjostrom 3.

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!