New-look King’s continues to surprise in postseason

By David Pan | Mar 01, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan King’s Hunter Reeves attempts a shot against Mount Baker during a 1A District playoff game at King's High School.

King’s sixth straight trip to the Yakima Valley SunDome for the 1A state boys basketball tournament might be its most unexpected and satisfying in years.

The Knights entered the 2017-18 with a lot of uncertainty. The team started five new players and had to overcome the graduation of seven seniors, who led the squad to a third place finish at last season’s state tournament.

It’s safe to say the Knights have met and overcome just about every obstacle thrown their way.

Junior Elyon Zevenbergen scored a game-high 20 points to lead King’s to a 57-35 victory over Lakeside (5-mile Falls) in a loser-out 1A state regional playoff game Friday, Feb. 23, at Medical Lake High School.

The contest was the Knights’ four loser-out game of the postseason.

“It never gets old,” King’s coach Rick Skeen said of the trip to Yakima. “It’s new challenge. It’s a new group every year and this group overcame some obstacles. We’re really proud of what they accomplished. I’m proud of their toughness, their resilience and perseverance through adversity.”

The loss of seven seniors had many observers predicting this would be a down year for the Knights, Skeen noted.

Instead, King’s finished second in the league and the Knights later defeated Cascade Conference champion South Whidbey in a loser-out district playoff contest.

King’s jumped on Lakeside early, outscoring its opponent 18-6. The Knights went into halftime with a 30-13 advantage and didn’t let up in the second half.

“These kids are playing well,” Skeen said. “They are believing in each other and supporting each other.”

The long trip to Medical Lake and unfamiliar surroundings were ripe for distractions, but the players were dialed in to the game, Skeen added.

“They went in like focused professional athletes,” the King’s coach said.

The Knights attacked Lakeside’s zone defense by running the offense through the high post. King’s hit 5 of 13 3-point shots.

“We were best at getting the ball in the paint and not relying too much on the outside shot,” Skeen said.

King’s had a height advantage against Lakeside but not necessarily a strength edge as its rival guarded the 6-foot-6, 175-pound Zevenbergen with a 6-2, 210 post.

“Elyon is playing great,” Skeen said. “His teammates are getting him the ball. They are believing in him. He’s been hitting a lot of his shots. He has a nice touch. He’s making 3-point shots as well.”

Teammate Taylor Schoenfeld scored 11 points and Levi Bundrant had 8 points.

As well as the Knights (16-11) played on offense, the defense also did its job in shutting down Lakeside’s top two scorers. The two had been averaging 29 points and were limited to only 3 points. Lakeside was held to single digits in each of the first three quarters.

“Our kids were really locked in and executing the game plan,” Skeen said.

King’s was scheduled to face Newport in a loser-out 1A state tournament game Wednesday, Feb. 28, after the Beacon’s deadline. The winner advances to a Thursday, March 1 showdown against No. 2 Freeman.

The Knights have advanced to the final field of 16 teams in 2013-17 and 2006-2010.

King’s played in the state regional tournament in 2011 and 2012.

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