The West Central Area Knights pulled out a 59-55 boys basketball win over a powerful Ashby Arrows team on Tuesday night in Barrett.
The Arrows, who feature a big skilled team with brothers Christian, Jaden and Hunter Norby, along with 5-year starter and 1,000 point scorer Scott Johnson, jumped out to a 22-8 lead over the Knights.
The Knights battled back to 27-29 late in the half until Johnson drilled a three at the buzzer to put the Arrows up 32-27 at the half. The Arrows once again extended the lead to 42-32 midway through the half but the Knights kept chipping away and finally tied it at 45-45. A Grant Beuckens three broke a 51-51 tie to put the Knights up 54-51. The Arrows managed to tie it again at 55-55. Four free throws by Gage Staples and Gavin Paulson in the final minute gave the Knights the 4-point cushion for the win.
Knight Coach Kraig Hunter said, "First off, it is nice to see hall-of-fame coach John Holsten back on the sidelines. He has a nice team. We were fortunate that our kids showed grit and perseverance to hang in there to have a chance. Then they executed and made some clutch plays down the stretch to beat a very talented and experienced basketball team."
"It was a total team effort as Tate Christenson and Gage Staples gave us good play off the bench and Gavin Paulson and Teigen Moritz played like great senior leaders", concluded Hunter.
The Knights shot 45% to 37% for the Arrows. Both teams hit six 3's. The Knights made 9-12 free throws and the Arrows 5-6. Ashby secured 28 rebounds and dished out 16 assists on the night.
The Knights had real balanced scoring with Jack VanKempen scoring 14, Gage Staples 12, Grant Beuckens 10, Gavin Paulson 9, Jacob Bright 7, Tate Christenson 5, and Teigen Moritz 2. Rebounding leaders for the Knights were VanKempen and Staples with 8 each, Paulson with 5, and Moritz 4.
VanKempen, Bright, and Beuckens all had 3 assists with Christenson and Moritz each adding 2.
Jaden Norby led the Arrows in scoring, rebounds, and assists with 16, 8 and 6, respectively. Scott Johnson and Christian Norby also netted double figures with13 and 11 points. Dakotah Ecker played an excellent floor game, dishing out three assists and he didn't commit a turnover. Noah Johnson scored 5 points and recorded two steals, and Hunter Norby made both shots he took for 4 points.
"We had an eight point lead midway through the second half but couldn't make a big shot or get a needed stop as the Knights ran their offense with a high level of efficiency," reported Ashby Head Coach John Holsten. "The Arrows took care of the basketball, committing just six turnovers in the season opener. Ashby fans had to be excited to see Christian Norby play extremely well in his first basketball game since suffering an ACL tear last February."
The Arrows play host to New York Mills on Thursday night.