May 21, 2022

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Knights fall in sub-section finals, finish 22-5

Seniors Jackson Loge (MACA) and Ryder Staples (WCA) fight under the basket.

The West Central Area Knight boys basketball team fell to top-seeded Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta in the Section 3AA-North finals to end the year 22-5. The Knights earned an upset win over No. 2 New London-Spicer Thursday for a spot in the subsection finals.

“This season has been an unbelievably enjoyable experience every step of the way, with a great group of young men,” WCA coach Kraig Hunter said. “I am sad it’s over, but I can’t stop thinking about how grateful I am for everything we were able to do together with this team, our great assistant coaches, awesome fans, and such a supportive group of parents.”

“We told them before the season that this was a new year and it was their turn to make their impact on the program. And boy did they ever make an impact,” Hunter added. “They were relentless workers and played unselfish basketball. They won a conference championship, they won 22 games and in the playoffs, which they had moved up to Class AA, they made it to the subsection championship game. They are a special group of young men and a special team.”

The Knights were led by two seniors, Tyler Biss and Ryder Staples.

“They were the best mentors for our team. Tyler Biss and Ryder Staples are as good of people as you’ll find. We thank them both for the impactful contributions they made to our basketball program,” Hunter concluded.

West Central Area – 54

NL-Spicer – 44

The Knights’ scrappy defense shined again as they downed New London-Spicer 54-44 in the Section 3AA-North semifinals Thursday, March 10, in Willmar.

The Wildcats were just 4-of-19 from three-point range and 16-of-45 from the floor for just 36 percent in the game. The Knights converted 18-of-35 for 51 percent and hit 36 percent of their threes, going 5-of-14.  The Knights also connected from the charity stripe, going 13-of-17.

“What an amazing defensive performance by our kids again,” Knights coach Kraig Hunter said. “Our coaching staff is so proud of the mental toughness and grit they play with. We’ve told them all year they win with defense and once they start hitting threes and free throws, we are going to be a good team. It’s been fun to watch them grow and play with that free flowing confidence and shoot the ball well now along with their defense.”

“I have to give them credit; they had some good stops where we weren’t able to make something happen. I give them a lot of credit; their defense was really solid,” NLS coach Skip Wright said.

The goal going into the game was to take away New London-Spicer’s three-point shooting and control the rebounding game, and WCA did both.

“What happened is they made that final run and that’s playoff basketball,” Wright told the West Central Tribune.

Cole Anderson led the Knights with 18 points. Cam Anderson scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half to help the Knights seal the win.

“He’s a great player and he’s capable of doing that all the time,” Hunter said of Camden. “He doesn’t want to be in the spotlight but when he needs to, he’s done that all year in big games.”

Jacob Strunk added nine and Ryder Staples finished with eight for the Knights, who improved to 22-4 on the year.

“Nasir Dotts, Roman Mihailovschi and Mitch Dewey didn’t score tonight but they were all key factors in our defensive performance,” Hunter concluded.

Morris/C-A – 82

West Central Area – 49

The Knights saw their season come to an end in the subsection finals after an 82-49 loss to top-seeded Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta Saturday, March 12, at the R/A Facility on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall.

Tiger senior Jackson Loge was tough to handle for the Knights. His efficiency helped the Tigers shoot 67 percent in the game. 

“Morris and Jackson played very well (Saturday),” Knight coach Kraig Hunter said. “There is no margin for error playing a team with that much talent. We did some good things early that we were so close to capitalizing on but if you don’t they are a tough team to play catch-up with.”

The Knights shot 20-of-54 for 37 percent in the game and made 5-of-17 threes while going 4-of-10 from the free throw line.

Cam Anderson led WCA with 14 points. Cole Anderson and Jacob Strunk had 10 apiece. Ryder Staples was held to five points as the Knights close out the 2021-2022 season 22-5.