No one had to tell Lansing Waverly’s Scott Koenigsknecht that he hasn’t been playing well. No, the junior was well aware and with that in mind told his head coach to get after him and to not let up.
Waverly coach Craig Fields obliged. “I have had no trouble doing that,”he explained.
The 6-5 junior Warrior center responded Friday night in tallying 27 points while grabbing eight rebounds to lead Waverly to a 58-56 Capitol Area Athletic Conference Blue Division championship.
“It was a breakout game for Scott. He hasn’t been playing well. He’s been good then bad, good and then bad. I just told him to go out their and relax,” Fields said.
Koenigsknecht entered the game with more letters in his last name than points scored in his last four games. That changed, with the stakes at the highest they’ve been all year. Koeniasknecht netted a first-quarter shot from the foul line extended, muscled in a number of shots from underneath the basket and even dropped in a baseline baby hook from within five feet late in the fourth quarter to extend Waverly’s lead to three. The junior, fouled on the play, then stepped to the line and completed the three-point play.
“It’s the best game I’ve played by far. It feels good. I wanted this one so bad,” Koenigsknecht said.
The Warriors (13-4, 9-0) led by 11 points after one quarter of play, thanks to a three-quarters, half-court shot banked in by Rashuan Carroll as time expired in the opening quarter. Mason trimmed the lead to eight at halftime, however, Waverly built the lead up to as many as 13 in the third quarter before a gutty Mason team, 15-2, 7-2 (only losses to Waverly), battled back to tie the game at 56-56 with 17 seconds to play.
Waverly’s Dee Roberts, a couple seconds later netted the game’s winning points from the foul line. Mason’s final attempt bounced off the rim and two final put-backs missed their marks.
“This team has battled all year. They struggled shooting tonight, but kept battling. This isn’t the first time they battled back from a double-digit deficit in the second half,” Mason boys basketball coach Lee Chaney explained. “The difference tonight was we were 10-of-26 from the foul line. This has been one of my better foul-shooting teams”
The win clinched an outright championship for Waverly in its first year in the Blue Division.
“It didn’t come easy. Mason always plays us tough. We knew they were going to come after us,” Fields said. “It’s actually our third straight league title, we tied Sexton the last two years in the Red Division. I don’t like sharing, but tying Sexton, I’ll take that.”
Jakob Somerville led all Mason players with 23 points. Thomas McNamara chipped in with 13.
Mason entered the game focused on holding Lansing Waverly’s top two scorers below their season average.
“Our game plan was to slow down Carroll and Brown (Louis) and make their role players step up,” said Mason boys basketball coach Lee Chaney.
They did. Carroll and Brown had been averaging over 40 points a game between them. The Bulldogs held them to 26 points – Carroll (14) and Brown (12).
However, that Waverly role player, named Koenigsknecht, stepped up on this night to lead his Warriors to a championship.