King’s talented senior class embraces high expectations | Boys basketball

By David Pan | Dec 06, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan King’s senior Hunter Reeves is guarded by two Glacier Peak defenders during a nonconference game Friday, Nov. 30, at Glacier Peak High School.

King’s did not win its season opener against Glacier Peak, but the Knights definitely proved they are a team to watch this season.

On the road against a 4A school that advanced to the state tournament last season, the Knights battled to the very end before losing 44-37 to the Grizzlies in a nonconference boys basketball game Friday, Nov. 30, at Glacier Peak High School.

King’s coach Rick Skeen didn’t sound like his team had come out on the losing end of a close battle.

“If they play that hard, they’re going to be fun to watch and they’re going to have a great season,” Skeen said of his players. “They’re skilled. They’re athletic. If they’ll just play that hard, they’re going to have a chance to have a special season. I thought they gave a great effort tonight. I was really happy with what they did.”

Skeen was especially pleased with King’s defensive performance. The Knights jumped out to an 11-4 in the first quarter and took a 30-27 lead into the final period.

“Defense is kind of our calling card,” Skeen said. “I was thrilled with that.”

Four seniors – Hunter Reeves, Nate Kleppe, Elyon Zevenbergen and Luke Bobin – are back from last year’s squad that placed sixth at the 1A state tournament.

“They’re a great group of kids. They’re solid basketball kids,” Skeen said. “They’re better people. They’re fun to coach. They model what we’re about. … It’s a special group of four kids.”

Reeves, the starting point guard, is playing with a lot of confidence, Skeen added.

“He’s a disruptor on the defensive end. He’s hard to keep in front of on the offensive end,” the King’s coach said. “He’s shooting the ball well. He’s the engine that made us go tonight. No doubt about it.”

Zevenbergen was playing especially well at the end of last season and he’s picked up right where he left.

“He’s grown so much in his leadership,” Skeen said. “He’s grown in his work ethic. He’s grown in his competitive fire. He’s always been skilled and athletic. … I love that he’s mad we lost. He’s a competitor.”

The seniors have plenty of talented teammates among the junior and sophomore classes and there’s even a freshman – Tyler Linhardt – who logged significant minutes late in Friday’s contest.

“We have a lot of key pieces and we’ve just got to put the puzzle together, which we’re doing at good pace,” Reeves said.

A big part of King’s success at state is a result of the offseason work put in by the players.

“It’s not just about being there (state),” Kleppe said. “It’s about the work that leads up to getting there. That really determines how successful we are there. A lot of guys understand that too. We’ve been working nonstop since state last year.”

With so much talent, the competition for playing time likely is to get heated among the Knights. That competition is only going to make King’s better.

“Everybody wants to start. Everybody wants playing time. Everybody want to be the go to guy,” Reeves said. “The way we juggle that is by competing against each in practice. You have a good week, you have a good shot at going into the game. … But it really coming down to whoever show up in practice and brings their A game.

“We have a deep bench. Each guy on the bench could easily be a starter for us in any game on any night.”

A newcomer already making an impact is freshman Linhardt, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward.

Skeen noted that Linhardt is a good shooter.

“We’ve got a lot of skilled dudes and we’re calling plays to throw the ball to him,” Skeen said. “He’s played a lot of high level ball and he’ll be an important part of our team this year.”

The Knight have high goals that extend all the way to the Yakima Valley SunDome, site of the 1A state tournament.

“I think we’re capable of going as far as we want to,” Kleppe said. “It just depends on how hard we work.”

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