King’s coaches, players energized by rebuilding process | Boys basketball

Knights graduated entire starting lineup
By David Pan | Jul 13, 2017
Photo by: David Pan Senior Taylor Schoenfeld will be one of the key returning players for the Knights, who graduated seven seniors from a team that finished third at the 1A state tournament.

Every year King’s boys basketball coach Rick Skeen and his staff have to deal with player turnover as most teams do.

Coaches often are motivated, Skeen said, when they hear fans ask “What are we going to do now?”

The Knights have plenty of motivation after the graduation of Gonzaga-bound Corey Kispert, the best player to ever come out of King’s, and a talented senior class that led the team, without an injured Kispert, to a third-place finish at the 1A state tournament.

Three of Kispert’s teammates also will be playing college ball. Chewy Zevenbergen is headed to Whitworth University and Luke Wicks will be playing at Northwest Nazarene. Dawson Porcello is planning to play at the community college level, likely at Shoreline.

Seven seniors are gone and Skeen said that six of the team’s top eight players were among those seniors.

“This senior class that we just lost was tremendous,” he said. “There’s no doubt that we are starting from ground level. We have good, young kids. … We’re going to take the guys we’ve got and try to get better. We aren’t very experienced at this point.”

The players had ample opportunity for that improvement as King’s played in the Franklin Shootout, the Lynden tournament, the Maverick Shootout, the Curtis Shootout and the Mount Baker tournament.

The Knights won the team championship at Mount Baker. The return of junior-to-be point guard Hunter Reeves, who was sidelined for all of June, helped King’s to a 5-0 tournament record. Reeves saw some action last season.

“He’s low and quick to the ground. He definitely makes us better,” Skeen said of his 5-foot-7, 155-pound guard. “He plays way bigger than he looks. He’s got an extra gear.”

Junior guard Nate Kleppe, senior Levi Bundrant and senior Taylor Schoenfeld all are expected to assume larger roles for the Knights.

The future looks especially promising, considering that Bundrant and Schoenfeld will be the lone returning seniors.

Three other players Skeen is looking to for varsity minutes are junior Luke Bobin, junior Elyon Zevenbergen (Chewy’s younger brother) and sophomore Tyler Durbin.

One of the areas the Knights are focusing on are the different roles some of the returning players are taking over. Players moving to different spots means that they have to relearn the playbook.

For example, Skeen noted, a player who may have been passing the ball might now be expected to set a screen.

The Knights lost some size and strength and are relying on some younger players, who don’t have the physical qualities the senior class possessed.

“Varsity basketball is physical,” Skeen said. “We lost some physical bodies. I have seen them toughen up in the summer.”

King’s was scheduled to wrap up its offseason this week with a team camp at Gonzaga University. The time spend together this summer is important not only for the on-court work but in developing team chemistry and a connection among the players.

“Every year the heartbeat has to start over again,” Skeen said. “The more time you spend together the better.”

The players won’t have to look far for motivation. Skeen is telling the Knights that not many people feel they are going to be any good this season.

“We’re welcoming the challenge,” he said. “We’re coaching our kids up. ... We’ve got work to do.

“I do think this group has a high ceiling. They’re hungry. They love to play.”

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