Firebirds, Rebels earn spot in Region 3Central Prairie senior guard Eric Knodel needed 22 points to reach 1,000 in his standout prep career entering Saturday’s Class B Region 3 qualifying game of the District 5 Boys’ Basketball Tournament against Barnes County North at the Jamestown Civic Center.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
Central Prairie senior guard Eric Knodel needed 22 points to reach 1,000 in his standout prep career entering Saturday’s Class B Region 3 qualifying game of the District 5 Boys’ Basketball Tournament against Barnes County North at the Jamestown Civic Center.
But he didn’t know it.
Knodel’s coaches, friends and family thought they’d keep it a secret, that is until the feat was announced to the crowd following Knodel’s 22nd point — scored on a three-pointer with less than three minutes to play in the third period — during the Firebirds’ 56-49 victory over the Bison.
“It feels really good,” Knodel said. “You work your whole career, and it’s a nice goal to get to in varsity basketball.”
Knodel lit things up against BCN, pumping in a tournament-high 34 points. Averaging just over 23 points per game this season, Knodel went 11 of 23 from the field with a pair of three-pointers, and also went 10 of 11 from the free-throw line, en route to 1,012 career points and counting.
“As he goes we go, and he had a good night tonight,” Central Prairie coach Calvin Kraft said of Knodel. “Congratulations to him on his 1,000 points. He’s the first player in Central Prairie co-op history to do it, which is seven or eight years now, so it’s great for him. But obviously we live to fight another day and that’s all we wanted to do.”
But being the first player in the co-op’s short history to reach the mark is rather surprising. Over the past few years the Firebirds have had some prolific scorers in their lineup, including such names as Nic Moser and Aaron Moser, and Knodel’s older brother, Brock Knodel.
“I wouldn’t have got to it if it wasn’t for them pushing me in practice every day my sophomore and freshman year,” Knodel said. “I probably wouldn’t be the player that I am without those guys in front of me.”
Knodel poured in 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting in the first period to help the Firebirds to a 17-11 lead over the Bison after one. Knodel also sunk a pair of freebies at the line, courtesy of a technical foul that was directed at BCN’s bench.
Cody Christ had a solid period, scoring all but two of BCN’s points of the frame, but it was six points by the Bison’s Jacoby Kramlich in the second that helped BCN knot the score at 25-25 at the half. The Bison left six points at the free-throw line in the quarter, but forced Central Prairie into 11 of its 14 turnovers before the half.
Central Prairie opened up the third with a 6-0 run on buckets by Brett Williams, Nathan Denning and Knodel, and they’d lead the rest of the way. Knodel scored 12 of Central Prairie’s 14 fourth-period points by hitting a pair of field goals and going 8 of 9 at the line.
Denning scored eight in the game, while Knodel pulled in 11 rebounds to post a double-double.
“The beginning of the game we jumped on them, and they came back to tie it 25-25 at halftime,” Kraft said. “In the beginning of the second half, we jumped on them again and I was hoping we could hang on.”
Kramlich (14 points), Christ (13) and Brad Clemens (12) all hit double figures in scoring for the Bison, who shot just 25 percent (16 of 64) in the game.
“We came in here and got upset in the first round. That could have went one of two ways,” Kraft said. “We could have went down and put up a white flag, or we could have bounced back and won two tough games. We did, and now anything can happen.”
Central Prairie (11-11) will be facing Napoleon, a team they lost to in a close 65-57 contest in Medina back on Jan. 7, in the opening round of the Region 3 tournament in Jamestown on Feb. 20.
BCN’s season came to a close at 6-16.
“We can fix some things, but we are going to give them all we’ve got and I like the group of guys that we have,” Kraft said.
No. 6 P-B-K 49, No. 5 L-M-M 41
The Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal Rebels doubled their season total of victories during the District 5 tournament to punch their ticket to next week’s Region 3 tournament.
Victory No. 4 on the year was won in the fourth period at the Civic Center on Saturday, as the Rebels turned away Litchville-Marion-Montpelier, who was playing in its final game as they’ll co-op with LaMoure next season.
The two teams had faced each other twice this season before the tournament, with each team picking up a victory.
“We struggled with shooting a little bit again tonight. We were trying to keep the turnovers below 13-14 and we ended up with 17,” P-B-K coach Duke Larson said. “It was just kind of a scrappy game and we expected that.
“I knew it would probably come down to the wire, and it definitely did because in the beginning of the fourth quarter it was back-and-fourth before we pulled away a bit in the last three minutes.”
P-B-K led 18-16 at the half and 33-29 after three, but clutch three-pointers by Cole Diede and Wyatt Guthmiller in the fourth, combined with sinking 8 of 11 shots at the charity stripe as a team, handed P-B-K the victory.
Guthmiller hit three treys in the game and finished with nine points. The team was led by Nicholas Blaskowski’s double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Diede ended with 12 points and Shawn Baker added 10 for P-B-K.
“Wyatt had a nice tournament. He probably shot the ball the best he’s shot all year, so hopefully he can do the same at regionals,” Larson said. “We’re expecting points out of Nic and Shawn Baker, and when you get some other guys stepping up it’s an added bonus.”
Both teams made 16 field goals in the game, but P-B-K outscored L-M-M at the free-throw line 12-3. P-B-K also outrebounded L-M-M 42-33.
“We knew we had to do a better job on the boards today than we did yesterday,” Larson said. “That was one of our focuses. That and turnovers.
“The kids made a concentrated effort and did a lot better job on it tonight.”
L-M-M was led by Dylan Thompson’s 11 points and nine boards.
The P-B-K Rebels (4-18) move on to face Linton-HMB in the quarterfinals of the Region 3 tournament on Feb. 20.
“It’s a good step for these kids, because for the most part we have all of them back next year,” Larson said. “To get a little taste of regionals, maybe it will be a springboard for next year.”
District 5 Boys’ Basketball Tournament
Saturday’s Region 3 qualifiers
No. 6 Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal 49, No. 5 Litchville-Marion-Montpelier 41
L-M-M 10 16 29 41
P-B-K 8 18 33 49
L-M-M — Dylan Thompson 11, Trevor Alber 7, Trystan Harr 7, Devin Piehl 6, Lindsey Hansen 4, Garrett Van Asperen 4, Nolan Alber 2. Totals: 16-52 FG, 6-7 FT, 33 Rebounds (Thompson 9), 15 Fouls, 10 Assists (Van Asperen 5), 13 Turnovers, 8 Steals (3 with 2). Three-pointers: (3-10) Thompson, Piehl, Harr.
P-B-K — Nicholas Blaskowski 14, Cole Diede 12, Shawn Baker 10, Wyatt Guthmiller 9, J.R. Perleberg 4. Totals: 16-53 FG, 12-17 FT, 42 Rebounds (Blaskowski 11, Baker 9), 15 Fouls, 10 Assists (Diede 4), 17 Turnovers, 2 Blocks (2 with 1), 8 Steals (3 with 2). Three-pointers: (5-18) Guthmiller 3, Diede, Blaskowski.
Records: P-B-K 4-18; L-M-M 2-19.
No. 3 Central Prairie 56, No. 4 Barnes County North 49
BCN 11 25 34 49
Central Prairie 17 25 42 56
BCN — Jacoby Kramlich 14, Cody Christ 13, Brad Clemens 12, Austin Jorissen 4, Derek Fletcher 4, Wyatt Steckler 2. Totals: 16-64 FG, 15-28 FT, 49 Rebounds (Kramlich 9, Clemens 8), 18 Fouls (Kramlich), 5 Assists (Fletcher 2), 13 Turnovers, 6 Steals (Christ 3, Fletcher 3). Three-pointers: (2-12) Kramlich 2.
Central Prairie — Eric Knodel 34, Nathan Denning 8, Chris Heinrich 4, Brett Williams 4, Thaddaeus Owen 3, Will Staloch 3. Totals: 19-51 FG, 15-19 FT, 40 Rebounds (Knodel 11), 21 Fouls (Williams), 12 Assists (Owen 4, Knodel 4), 14 Turnovers, 5 Blocks (Williams 2, Owen 2), 6 Steals (Staloch 3). Three-pointers: (3-12) Knodel 2, Staloch.
Records: Central Prairie 11-11; BCN 6-16.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org