March 4, 2024

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Knights sit atop West Central Conference standings 

Photo by Kaeden Fischer Bryce Kjesbo plays some stifling defense for WCA when MACA was attempting to inbound the ball in Barrett Feb. 2.

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Sam Peterson

Grant County Herald

The West Central Area boys basketball team continued their stellar season with two victories over Brandon-Evansville and Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta. First, the team hosted the Chargers in Barrett Jan. 30 and blew out B-E 79-39. Next, they participated in a double-header with the girls against MACA in Barrett Feb. 2 and earned a 56-50 win. The two wins improved the Knights’ record to 15-3 overall and 9-2 in the conference to sit at the top of the WCC standings.

WCA 79

B-E 39

The WCA Knights picked up a 76-39 home, win vs the Brandon-Evansville Chargers on Monday night in Barrett. The Knights led 41-23 at the half. 

Leaders for the Knights were Ben Bye with 18 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals; Bryce Kjesbo had 16 points, five rebounds and five assists; Cam Anderson added 11 points and a team high six assists; Cash Nelson chipped in with eight points and two assists; Mitch Dewey finished with eight points, three assists and three steals; Sam Hanson had four points; Nasir Dotts added three points, six rebounds, three assists, and four steals; Dane Anderson tallied three points and three rebounds; Owen Sanstead added two points and three rebounds; Marshall Dewey had two points, three rebounds and three steals; and Dajon Olson added one point to round out the scoring for the Knights.

WCA 56

MACA 50

Two of the top teams in the West Central Conference faced off in Barrett on Friday night as WCA Knights hosted the Morris Area Chokio-Alberta Tigers.  The Knights came away with a 56-50 win in front of a packed house.   

“What an atmosphere for a high school basketball game,” Knights Coach Kraig Hunter said. “The stands were packed, the play was physical, and both teams had to grind every possession.  Morris is a great team and they’ve been on a hot streak lately. They had us outsized a bit, but give credit to the fight in our kids. We are so proud of them. It sounds cliche’, but once again, it was truly a team effort with everyone contributing to the win and every possession was so important.”

Morris jumped out to a 4-0 lead. There were numerous lead changes throughout most of the first half. With the Knights leading 26-18, the Tigers made an 8-0 run to tie it at 26-26.  The Knights finished the half strong taking a 31-28 lead.  Morris tied and then took the lead a couple of times early in the second half. It was a physical defensive battle for most of the second half. 

With just under five minutes to go in the game with the shot clock running down and Morris leading 44-43, the Tigers Charlie Hanson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer of the shot clock to give the Tigers a 47-43 lead.

“Morris had the momentum at that point,” said Hunter. “But we took a timeout and calmed down and we said, ‘now it’s our turn’.  Over the last five minutes we made seven stops in nine possessions. Our defense dug in and we executed down the stretch on offense.”

After the first stop, Anderson got fouled and hit two free throws to pull within 45-47. After forcing two turnovers, Mitch Dewey converted a tough layup on the second one to tie it 47-47.  Two more stops by the Knights and a Kjesbo basket in the lane gave the Knights a 49-47 lead.  The Tigers Drew Huebner tied it at 49-49 and after a Knight timeout, the Knights Bye converted a slick step through move to give the Knights the lead again at 51-49.

With thirty-three seconds left, the Tigers Riley Asmus converted 1 of 2 free throws to bring the Tigers within one at 51-50. The Tigers fouled Dewey who converted both free throws to put the Knights up 53-50.  Kjesbo then got a steal with 11 seconds left. He was fouled and iced the game with two more free throws at 55-50. Bye was fouled and hit one more free throw for the final tally of 56-50.  

“Just shows we are a team,” added Hunter. “Four different guys scored our last four baskets and we had six different guys make a defensive play or grab a huge rebound in the last five minutes. Great poise by our players being down four with under five to play and sticking together making plays.”

Leaders for the Knights were Anderson with 21 points, three assists and took two charges. Anderson came up clutch hitting 8 of 9 free throws. Kjesbo had 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals; Bye also had 10 points and a team high eight rebounds.  Mitch Dewey had six points and three assists; Hanson had six points and six rebounds; Marshall Dewey added three points. Dotts had six rebounds and four steals. Owen Sanstead added a rebound and a steal.

The Knights hit 15-19 free throws in the game. 

The next game for the Knights will be a road contest against Park Rapids Area on Thursday, February 8. They will also host Ashby in Barrett on Friday, Feb. 9.

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