WCA BBB coach
After two wins last week, the West Central Area boys basketball team has won three straight and nine of its last 10 games this season. The Knights beat Benson Tuesday and Montevideo Thursday to continue to dominate West Central Conference play at 5-1.
The Knights, 8-2, have three road games this coming week – a non-conference game at Brandon-Evansville on Monday and conference plays at Sauk Centre and BOLD on Thursday and Friday.
The WCA Knights made 14-of-28 threes and hit 32-62 shots overall for 52 percent in an 83-37 win over Benson on Tuesday, Jan. 10, in Benson. The Knights led 47-22 at the half. They held a 33-21 rebounding edge and forced 22 Brave turnovers. The Braves were 15-36 from the field for 38% and hit 7-25 threes for 28 percent. From the free throw line, the Knights were 5-10 and the Braves 0-4.
The Knights placed three players in double figures led by Jacob Strunk with 23 points, Cole Anderson 20, and Ben Bye 12. Mitch Dewey added 9 points, Bryce Kjesbo 7, Sam Hanson 5, Roman Mihailovschi 3, Damon Sanstead 2, Brett Amundson 1, and Cash Nelson 1.
Rebounding leaders were Kjesbo with 9, Bye with 8 and Amundson with 4. Cole Anderson led the team with 7 assists while Nasir Dotts had 4 and Hanson 3. The Knights had several players with multiple steals. Kjesbo and Dewey had 4 each, Strunk 3, while Anderson, Dotts, and Hanson all had 2 each.
Juan Espinoza led the Braves in scoring with 9 points.
The Montevideo Thunderhawks got off to a hot start taking a 12-4 lead. They led the entire game building it up to 10 points at 45-35 with four and a half minutes left. The Knights ended the game on a 22-11 run over those last four and a half minutes including Jacob Strunk’s 3-pointer with six seconds left to give the Knights first lead at 57-56. The Knights used a foul they had to give with 1.7 seconds left and then the Thunderhawks last second shot from 25 feet missed and the Knights hung on to win Thursday, Jan. 12, in Montevideo.
Knights Coach Kraig Hunter said, “This was one of those nights where nothing went right for most of the game. Montevideo shot well, when they missed, we gave up too many offensive rebounds. On our end we missed too many shots in the lane. We got into a lot of foul trouble with multiple players.”
“On these kinds of nights, we as a team, just tried to keep battling every possession and trying to chip away. We got it close, and our pressure got to them as we got some key stops when needed. Our kids remained poised and executed some things on offense. We got it to 52-53 when Cooper Dack hit a three to put them up back 52-56 with just under a minute to play. Jacob Strunk scored 9 of our last 13 points as he scored to make it 54-56 with 38 seconds. We got a stop to get the ball back when Jacob hit his go ahead three with six seconds. Hats off to Jacob but as he would tell you, it took all of his teammates to help make those plays in the end. Remarkable mental toughness and poise by our kids.”
Hunter added, “With the combination of our foul trouble and the size of a couple of their big kids, we would not have won this game without our post players Damon Sanstead and Ben Bye. They combined to score 9 of their 11 points in the second half and got us some key rebounds. Sam Hanson also played some crucial minutes and made big plays off the bench.”
The Knights made 21-57 shots for 37% and 5-20 threes for 25%. They hit 10-16 free throws. The Thunderhawks made 22-57 shots for 38% and 4-14 threes for 29%. They made 8-14 free throws. Montevideo dominated the rebounding 43-34. In the turnover department however, the Knights only had 8 turnovers including only one in the second half. The Thunderhawks had 16 turnovers.
“It was another tough one,” Montevideo head coach Derek Webb told the West Central Tribune. “It’s tough when you’re 15, 16, 17 to keep your head up. They’re good kids. But this is tough.”
Scoring for the Knights were Strunk 14, Bryce Kjesbo 12, Cole Anderson 9, Mitch Dewey 6, Ben Bye 6, Damon Sanstead 5, Nas Dotts 3, and Sam Hanson 2.
Anderson had a good rebounding effort with 11 rebounds, Kjesbo had 8 and Bye 5. Kjesbo had a good all-around game again as he also led the team with 4 assists and Hanson had 3. Anderson had a good defensive game as well with 6 steals and Dewey had 4.
Scoring for Montevideo were Devin Ashling 16, Cooper Dack 10, Carson Boike 9, Gannon Reidinger 8, Mason Jerve 6, Griffin Epema 5, Gavin Marty 2.
West Central Area (9-2) 24 33 — 57
Montevideo (4-6) 32 24 — 56
WEST CENTRAL AREA – Scoring: Ben Bye 8, Cole Anderson 9, Jacob Strunk 14, Mitchell Dewey 6, Nasir Dogts 3, Bryce Kjesbo 12, Damon Sanstead 5 … 3-point shots: Strunk 2, Dewey 2, Kjesbo … Rebound leader: n/a … Assist leader: n/a … Steal leader: n/a … Block leader: n/a
MONTEVIDEO – Scoring: Devin Ashling 16, Cooper Dack 10, Carson Boike 9, Gannon Reidinger 8, Mason Jerve 6, Griffin Epema 5, Gavin Marty 2 … 3-point shots: Ashling 1, Dack 2, Reidinger 1 … Rebound leaders: Reidinger 13, Boike 9, Dack 7, Ashling 6 … Assist leaders: Reidinger 5, Epema 4, Dack 3 … Steal leader: Ashling 2 … Block leaders: Dack 1, Epema 1