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Boys basketball: 60-point first half helps WCA beat B-E

A strong start guided West Central Area to a 33-point win over Brandon-Evansville on Monday.

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West Central Area's Sam Hanson puts up a mid-range jumper during the team's 77-44 win over Brandon-Evansville on Jan. 16, 2023. WCA scored 60 points in the first half of its win.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press
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The West Central Area boys basketball team continued its strong season with a 77-44 win over the Brandon-Evansville Chargers on Monday.

The Knights (10-2) started the game on a 24-0 run in the first seven minutes of the first half.

“We respect Brandon-Evansville, and they have a lot of good shooters, so it was important for us to get off to a good start,” WCA head coach Kraig Hunter said. “We've just been telling our guys that all the stuff that we're trying to do is to get ready us for the playoffs. Our section is good and physical, so we have to play that way all the time. We have to create things with our defense.”

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WCA's Bryce Kjesbo (white) goes up to block a shot by B-E's Dezmond White (blue) during the first half of WCA's 77-44 win on Jan. 16, 2023. WCA began the game on a 24-0 run.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

This start helped the Knights go up 60-14 at halftime and win 77-44.

“We were sharing the ball well in the first half,” WCA senior Cole Anderson said. “It wasn't just one player at all; it was everybody. That's always been a big thing for us.”

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One thing that’s been helping the Knights has been a balanced offense, which it had in Monday’s win.

“I think we're balanced and have to be,” Hunter said. “The goal is for them to need to defend all five guys on the floor.”

15 different players saw action for the Knights in the win, and they had ten players score, led by Cole Anderson with 16 points.

The Chargers' scoring was spread out as well, as they had nine players score, led by Dezmond White with 11.

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B-E's Dezmond White (10) sifts through West Central Area defenders during the first half of a game on Jan. 16, 2023. White had 11 points, but WCA won 77-44.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

With this win, WCA has won four straight games.

B-E pushed back in the second half, outscoring WCA 30-17.

“Kraig’s a really good coach, and I’ve always respected West Central Area’s program,” B-E head coach Trent Hintermeister said. “They do a great job of getting their kids to show up and compete for 36 minutes, and they did that here. They got hot early and couldn’t miss, but part of that was because of us not being good defensively. The other part of that is they’re so quick with their hands and feet. Give credit to them; there’s a reason why they’ve won a pile of games and why they’ll win a pile more.”

The Knights are the No. 17 ranked team in Class AA in the Minnesota Basketball News poll by Pacesetter sports and are the highest-rated Section 3AA team in the QRF rankings on Minnesota-scores.net (No. 21).

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“We had pretty high expectations coming into this year, but we’ve had to adjust being without Cam [Anderson],” Hunter said. “It's a little tougher to score without him, so we're trying to get all the other guys to kind of makeup for that collectively.”

WCA has been playing without Cam Anderson, who suffered an injury before the season began.

The team has adapted to this injury and excelled.

“Mitch Dewey, Nas Dotts, and Bryce Kjesbo have been nice for us,” Anderson said. “Jake Strunk and I are the two returning starters, and those three have played huge roles.”

The Knights have held their last four opponents to less than 57 points.

“We build our program on defense, and especially this year, with our lack of size, we know we have played really good defense,” Hunter said.

WCA plays at Sauk Centre on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Sauk Centre is one of two teams, along with Battle Lake, that has beaten WCA this season. Sauk Centre beat WCA 66-58 on Jan. 5, 2023, in Barrett.

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Hunter said that the next stretch of games, which includes games on the road against Sauk Centre and BOLD and home games against Border West and Montevideo to end the month of January, will help get the playoff ready.

“The biggest thing is the physicality,” Hunter said. “We’ve got to control our man penetration defense because many of the teams we play are so well balanced, and you can't help out a lot of guys. So we're trying to do a good job of stopping penetration and helping out on defense.”

The Chargers (2-7) have a quick turnaround as they host the Ashby Arrows on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.

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B-E's Kian Gackle puts up a jumper during a game against WCA on Jan. 16, 2023. WCA won the game 77-44.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press


“The beauty of basketball is you never have to wait too long,” Hintermeister said. “We have another home game with Ashby, which is always fun. It’s fun to play West Central Area and Ashby. We’re close rivals with Ashby, and the kids know each other, so it’ll be fun.”

As the season has progressed, Hintermeister has seen growth from the younger players in the program.

“We’ve got some young kids in our program right now that are exciting to watch,” Hintermeister said. “Our 9th and 10th graders right now are playing well right now, and I’m having fun coaching them and watching them play.”

He’s excited to see further growth from them as the season progresses.

“I’m excited about them, and others are growing too,” Hintermeister said. “We’re getting better.”

WCA - 60 17 - 77

B-E - 14 30 - 44 

WCA SCORING - Ben Bye, 12 points; Cole Anderson, 16 points; Jake Strunk, 7 points; Sam Hanson, 2 points; Mitch Dewey, 11 points; Nas Dotts, 10 points; Roman Mihailovischi, 7 points; Bryce Kjesbo, 5 points; Damon Sanstead, 3 points; Isaac Kreft, 4 points

WCA TEAM TOTALS - FG - 32-59; 3-PT - 9-20; FT - 4-8; Rebounds (unofficial) - 34

B-E SCORING - Micah Fuller, 9 points; Riley Perleberg, 5 points; Brady Perleberg, 2 points; Tanner Riedel, 2 points; Carter White, 1 point; Dezmond White, 11 points; Nathan Anderson, 2 points; Lucas Fuller, 3 points; Stephen Hamilton, 7 points; Aaron Gillespie, 2 points

B-E TEAM TOTALS - FG - 15-45; 3-PT - 4-18; FT - 10-15; Rebounds (unofficial) - 24;

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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