Knights struggle on offense in district playoff opener || Boys basketball

King’s falters in the 4th quarter in 48-40 loss to Mountaineers
By David Pan | Feb 08, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan King’s Josiah Siers eyes the basket during a 1A District playoff game against Mount Baker Monday, Feb. 5, at King’s High School.

For three quarters, King’s was making just enough baskets to stay right with Mount Baker.

The two teams headed into the final period tied at 30 when the Knights went cold from the field.

The Mountaineers went on a 13-2 run and went on to defeat King’s 48-40 in a first-round 1A Northwest District 1 boys basketball tournament game Monday, Feb. 5, at King’s High School.

The loss sends the Knights (10-11) into a loser-out contest against either South Whidbey or Nooksack Valley on Friday, Feb. 9.

Despite trailing 43-32 with just over two minutes remaining, King’s managed to chip away at the Mount Baker lead. Senior Taylor Schoenfeld hit a shot and a free throw, and junior Hunter Reeves followed with a 3-pointer and a 2-point basket to cut the deficit to 45-40 with 1:10 left in the game.

But the rally stalled, as the Knights were unable to score any more points.

“We played hard. We didn’t shoot the ball very well,” King’s coach Rick Skeen said. “We got great shots, open looks. We just didn’t make them.”

King’s shot only 29 percent overall from the field and made only 17 percent of its 3-point attempts. Reeves, who led the Knights with 11 points, made 3 of his 6 3-point shots, which meant that the rest of the team was 2 for 23.

The reason for Monday night’s loss was obvious to Skeen.

“If we make shots, we win,” he said. “If we don’t make shots, we lose. We kept hoping that the shots would start to fall. They never did.”

King’s fell behind 10-5 in the first quarter but then closed the quarter on an 8-3 to tie the score at 13. Junior Nate Kleppe and Reeves connected on back-to-back 3-point shots before Mount Baker’s David Vetkov answered with a 3 of his own at the end of the period.

Another 3-point shot by Reeves early in the second quarter gave the Knights an 18-15 lead, but Mount Baker’s Ethan Gates hit consecutive baskets, as the Mountaineers (11-9) took back the lead – 19-18. Schoenfeld responded with a basket before the Mountaineers closed out the quarter with two shots. Kleppe then made one of two free throws, and King’s went into halftime trailing 23-21.

Mount Baker inched ahead 30-25 in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Carson Engholm and a basket by Vetkov. King’s Kleppe hit a 3-pointer and teammate Nic Fotopoulos followed with a shot to tie the score at 30.

The task ahead for the Knights, regardless of who they face on Friday, is clear.

“One game. Win or go home,” Skeen said. “If we shoot it, we will advance. If we don’t, we won’t.”

The winner of Friday’s contest then will play a yet-to-be determined opponent at 3:45 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, at Mount Vernon High School.

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