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Knights Hand Ashby First Loss with Dominating Performance

By Craig Olson, 03/20/21, 10:30PM CDT


The West Central Area Knights had a dominating performance in beating previously unbeaten 19-0 and #2 state ranked Ashby Arrows with a 61-38 win on Saturday night in Ashby.  After a close first half, with the Knights trailing 20-21, they scored the last eleven points of the half to take a 31-21 lead. They started the second half on a 13-6 run after a Xander Bontjes 3-pointer that opened up the game to a 44-27 lead.

The Knights used a disciplined offense using patience to get good shots leading to 58% shooting going 21-36 and hitting 47% of their three's going 7-15.  The Knights defense was even more outstanding holding the high powered Ashby offense to 33% (15-46) and holding them to only 1-21 for 5% from three point land.

The Knights hit 12-18 free throws and the Arrows 7-14.  The Knights disciplined offense only turned the ball over five times all night and the Arrows 8.  Rebounds were very even with the Knights having a slim advantage 28-27.

Knights Coach Kraig Hunter said, "What a defensive performance by our kids.  All the credit goes to them. They did an amazing job taking away Ashby's strengths.  One of our game keys was defending their 3-point shooters. Ashby is a great 3-point shooting team and when they get going, they feed off that and get momentum.  I never thought we'd hold them to one.  One of our other keys was rebounding. Ashby is maybe the best offensive rebounding team in our section and that kept them in the game in the first half as they were out rebounding us. That was one of the areas we talked about at halftime.  I thought our rebounding effort in the second half was the difference. Holding them to one shot and then having so many good possessions on offense. I liked our poise and discipline.  I thought our bench was huge. Xander's three and then Jacob Strunk nailed three dagger 3's off the bench.  I also want to give credit to our scout team. They have been pushing us and going hard at us in practice which is huge in getting us ready."

Leaders for the Knights were Grant Beuckens with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals; Ryder Staples had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist; Jacob Strunk had 9 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal,  Brady Reeve had 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists; Tate Christenson had 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 assists; Cole Anderson had 3 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal; Xander Bontjes had 3 points, 1 rebound and 1 steal; and Nathaniel Junker rounded out the scoring with 2 points.

Jacob Cook recorded a double-double in points and rebounds (20 and 14) to lead the Arrows.  Jaden Norby dished out 6 assists, added 8 points, and pulled down 7 rebounds.

Coach Hunter commented, “I want to give recognition to Ashby senior Jaden Norby.  Anyone who has competed against Jaden respects him.  Myself and our team have all the respect in the world for him.  He is a tremendous athlete and leader, but an even better person.  He is humble and all class.”

“We didn't have the boys ready to compete tonight,” commented Ashby Head Coach John Holsten.  “West Central was better coached, played better defense, and was very good in transition offense.  They shot much better than we did, too.  It's a tough way for our seniors to end their Ashby basketball careers.  Jaden Norby, Ashton Ecker, Bobby Anderson, Miles Hoff, Jake Rein, Zach Buck, Colby Finkelson, and Derrek Bartz have been excellent representatives of Ashby High School.  Their contributions to the culture of the Boys Basketball program will be missed.”

The Arrows finish their season at 19-1 and the Knights (15-4) will take on the Hancock Owls (15-5) for the sub-section championship on Wednesday night in Hancock.  The two teams split during the year.