Knights playing like a section contender again after sixth straight win comes over B-E

West Central Area senior Brooke Anderson smiled when asked if Thursday night's 12 points was a career high. "I'm sure. I never shoot," she said with a laugh. Her spark off the bench helped the Knights win a sixth straight game as WCA is playing like a section contender again at the right time.

West Central Area junior forward Halle Foslien gets in front of the Brandon-Evansville defense for a layup during the second half on Thursday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

The West Central Area girls basketball team has every intention of trying to get back to the Section 6A championship game this season, and the Knights are starting to look capable of that after winning their sixth straight game on Thursday.

The 82-43 win over Brandon-Evansville (5-8) puts WCA at 11-4 overall, and some of those losses could have gone the other way against some really good teams. New London-Spicer (15-0) is the top-ranked team in Class AA, and the Knights pushed the Wildcats as much as any team in a 57-53 loss on Jan. 21. It’s the closest margin of victory all season for an NL-S program that is handling opponents by an average of more than 28 points per game.

“We felt like we could have and should have won it,” Knights’ head coach Eric Schoenbauer said. “We were up late and some things happened, and they deserved to win. When that happened, I felt like we got complacent and said, ‘OK, we’re here now.’ It took us getting shelled a couple more times for us to figure out we have to do those little things right all the time or we’re not going to realize our potential.”

Brandon-Evansville junior guard Olivia Otto reaches for a ball as she tries to save it from going out of bounds with WCA's Lexi Bright right behind her on Thursday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)


WCA’s other two losses are to 14-0 Hancock twice and Parkers Prairie (11-2) in a 69-65 game on Feb. 16. Since then, the Knights are 6-0 and beating teams by an average of 24.7 points a night after lopsided wins over Rothsay on Tuesday and now B-E.

“We are starting to gel. I’m getting goosebumps right now just talking about it,” Schoenbauer said. “Last year was a special group. This year feels like it could be a special group. Whatever happens in the playoffs happens, but when they gel together and they work together, it’s fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”

Brandon-Evansville was finally back to full strength on Thursday. The Chargers (5-8) were without their top post player in Mikenna Pattrin for a while due to injury, but she was back in the lineup against the Knights as she finished with six points and six rebounds.

Brandon-Evansville senior Mikenna Pattrin puts up a short jump shot against West Central Area on Thursday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

“There were about six, seven games where we were playing the best teams in the Little Eight and Pheasant Conference and we didn’t have our team at full strength,” B-E head coach Zach Traphagen said. “(Mikenna) had two full days of practice this week. It’s different once you get in the game. It’s going to take a week or so to get her game legs back.”

Nothing came easy for the Chargers as the Knights jumped out to a 48-29 lead by the break. Brandon-Evansville hung around through the first 12 minutes, but a three from senior Brooke Anderson gave the Knights a 38-21 lead. The Chargers called a timeout, and Anderson and her teammates lit up with laughter as they came to the bench.

“I haven’t shot all season,” Anderson said with a smile. “My teammates have really been pushing me, and I finally pulled through. My teammates backed me 100%. That was fun.”


West Central Area senior Brooke Anderson knocks down her second three of the night as she helped extend a second-half lead for the Knights in Brandon. Anderson had a career-high 12 points off the bench in the win. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Schoenbauer said they see Anderson’s ability to shoot in practice, but she is more comfortable deferring to teammates in games. Not on Thursday. Anderson had a career-high 12 points off the bench as she hit two threes, converted two post moves in the paint and knocked down a couple of free throws.

“(That was) beyond exciting,” Schoenbauer said. “I’m proud of Brooke. I’m proud of the team...Brandon is a good team and to play as well as we did is really exciting.”

The Knights have a deep bench, and that allows them to play at a frenetic pace. That tempo ultimately led to a lot of steals and good looks at the basket.

West Central Area's Brynn Fernholz (right) gets to a loose ball just in front of Brandon-Evansville's Bailey Schaefer on Thursday night in Brandon. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

“They get after you. I like that brand of play,” Traphagen said. “They play fearless, and that’s what we’re working towards. We want to be a team that plays aggressive and is fearless, but at the same time we get a little out of control at times. I give them a lot of credit. They played really well. They made shots, and that’s the game of basketball.”


That fast pace is how West Central Area wants to play no matter who the opponent is.

“I think that is where we shine best,” Anderson said. “We have fast girls. We’re a quick team, and that’s where we’re going to outwork other teams is with our speed and pushing the ball.”

West Central Area junior guard Lexi Bright gets into the lane against the defense of Brandon-Evansville's Olivia Otto on Thursday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Junior guard Lexi Bright was her usual self with 24 points. Eleven WCA players scored overall as sophomore forward Claire Stark had 9 and senior guard Brynn Fernholz added 8.

Schaefer continues to be a talented scoring threat for the Chargers most nights. She finished with a team-high 20 points, 15 of which came in the first half.

“She’s been a steady scoring presence for us, a defensive presence,” Traphagen said. “She takes pressure off of our ball handlers because she’s so athletic and can run by people. Just a really, really fun kid to coach.”


Brandon-Evansville's Bailey Schaefer converts a layup just in front of a charging Lexi Bright on Thursday night. Bright had 17 first-half points and Schaefer had 15 by the break. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

The current winning streak has placed the Knights right near the top of the 6A-South seed line, according to rankings through the QRF on

West Central Area (No. 23 state ranking) is currently the second seed in the subsection behind only Hancock (No. 7). Parkers Prairie (No. 27) is right near the Knights and holds the tiebreaker if things remain close due to the Panthers’ head-to-head win over WCA. Henning (13-1, No. 4 QRF), the defending section champion after beating WCA in the 2020 title game, is comfortably first on the seed line in the North.

There are just three games left on the Knights’ schedule -- all of them on the road at Ortonville, Ashby and Park Rapids. A few more wins will position WCA well in the section bracket when it is officially seeded on March 13. From there, it’s on the Knights to play their best basketball of the season as they try to put together another long run against a talented field.

“We got to continue to gel and continue to support each other,” Schoenbauer said. “We’re rolling 10 or 12 girls out there and other teams are usually going seven or eight. Hancock, Parkers Prairie, they’re playing (many) girls too. It’s going to be fun.”



B-E - Grace Otto - 3 points, 1 assist, 5 rebounds; Bailey Schaefer - 20 points, 2 assists, 1 block, 3 rebounds, 4 steals; Olivia Otto - 9 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Sydney Schaefer - 3 points, 1 assist, 1 steal; Kaytlyn Pattrin - 1 point, 2 rebounds; Kylee Dingwall - 1 point, 3 rebounds; Mikenna Pattrin - 6 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block


WCA SCORING - Brynn Fernholz - 8; Sydney Ulrich - 5; Lexi Bright - 24; Addison Staples - 2; Chloe LaRue - 3; Brooke Anderson - 12; Halle Foslien - 6; Kennedy Ulrich - 4; Elizabeth Rustan - 4; Claire Stark - 9; Macy Grosz - 5

West Central Area head coach Eric Schoenbauer talks with his team during a timeout on Thursday night in the Knights' win over Brandon-Evansville. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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