Kingsland's Spencer Klevan goes up high over a Byron defender in the sub-section title game. (Tribune photo by Paul Eberle)
Kingsland's Spencer Klevan goes up high over a Byron defender in the sub-section title game. (Tribune photo by Paul Eberle)
Things looked pretty good for the Kingsland Knights and their fans, holding on to a nine point lead, 27-18 at halftime in the sub-section championship game Saturday evening at Mayo Civic Arena in Rochester. But there was another 18 minutes of play, and that proved to be too much for the guys, falling to the Byron Bears when the final buzzer sounded, 55-48.

The nine-point lead deteriorated to a tie, 33-33, at the end of the "third quarter" (9:00), and then to a deficit at the 8:10 mark, 34-33. It was a two-three point game for the next three or four minutes, but then went to six with 4:28 to go in the game. From that point on it was all free throws for the Bears, hitting 11 of 14 in the last three-and-one-half minutes of the game. The Knights did score 10 points during that same stretch, but the deficit was already set, and no ground was gained.

Tanner Lange (16), who scored his 1,000th point for Kingsland during the game, and Spencer Klevan (14) led the team in scoring, with Soren Grandall (3), Sam Eberle (5) and Devin Pokorney (7) contributing. Josh Thompson came off the bench and hit a three-pointer in the second half. Eberle led the team with six assists and eight steals. Klevan led the team with five rebounds.

To this writer it looked like Kingsland was "out-sized" by the Bears, but in actuality Kingsland was one inch taller, in total height, for the five starters.

Coach Paul Eckheart was very complimentary following the game and praised the team and fans for their hard work and great support. "A big thanks to all who have been supportive throughout the season," said Eckheart. "This team has been a true gem. They did everything a coach could ask to better themselves and the team. I feel very fortunate and privileged to have been called their coach. What a successful season with so many positive memories," he continued. "This group of seniors is going to be very successful at whatever they choose to do in life, with the habits they have built in sports at Kingsland. Hopefully, the legacies that this team has built will be passed on to future generations of basketball players yet to take the court at Kingsland."

Eight seniors finished their basketball careers at Kingsland High School: Soren Grandall, Tanner Lange, Sam Eberle, Spencer Klevan, Devin Pokorney, Josh Thompson, Da'Shon Funches and Jessie Crowson.

Last Tuesday in the semifinals, the Knights got a hard-fought victory over Rochester Lourdes, 54-49, avenging an 11-point loss back in December.

Lange (17), Eberle (12) and Klevan (13) all finished in double-figures for the Knights in their five-point win. Grandall (1), Pokorney (7) and Thompson (4) also figured into the scoring for Kingsland. Thompson (4/4) had four big free throws in the game, including 2/2 with 8.7 seconds on the clock and just a three-point lead for the Knights. Those last two free throws really "iced" the game for Kingsland, as Lourdes had called its last timeout just before Thompson went to the line for his charity tosses. The two free throws by Thompson made it a two-possession game and really clinched the victory and the spot in the sub-section finals.

Kingsland finished the season with a 20-9 record, overall, and 15-5 in the TRC. The Knights tied Rushford-Peterson for second place in the conference.

After winning the west with the victory over Kingsland, Byron, with a 24-5 record, will go on to face Section 1AA East champion Plainview-Elgin-Milville, which also won the Three Rivers Conference, on Thursday, 8 p.m., at Mayo Civic Arena in Rochester. The winner advances to the state tournament.