LA CENTER — Between his own high school playing days in Colorado, and his now fourth year coaching the King’s Way Christian boys basketball team, Daven Harmeling called Tuesday’s 1A Trico League showdown between his Knights and La Center one of the best high school games he’s seen.
“That’s the way high school ball should be when both teams are playing super hard,” Harmeling said after King’s Way’s 55-49 double-overtime victory over the Wildcats. “It was fun.”
Even more fun for the Knights, who one night after dispatching league scoring leader Austin Brannan and Stevenson did one better — downing the league’s lone unbeaten to avenge a 10-point loss to the Wildcats from earlier this month.
In fact, Harmeling was honest exiting the team’s locker room after the game. He said he questioned his team’s heart and unity after that La Center loss on Jan. 6.
“I don’t question that today, that’s for sure,” he said.
Skyler Freeman, one of three Knights in double figures with 16 points, hit game-tying shots to force the first and second overtimes, including a corner 3 with 1.5 seconds left in the first overtime to make a 48-all tie.
Thanks to an 11-0 run in the second quarter, King’s Way (8-8, 5-1) led by as many as 16 in the first half, and its lead was 12 in the fourth quarter before La Center (9-3, 3-1) began its comeback. Avery Seter scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter and overtimes; his fastbreak bucket capped an 12-2 Wildcats run that gave La Center a 41-40 lead with 2:10 to play in the fourth.
Jake Wise, who was instrumental in fourth-quarter comeback, had 10 second-half points to finish with 18.
In the second four-minute overtime, Nick Pulicella (six points) hit his only 3-pointer of the game to open the King’s Way scoring; he was 0-for-6 from 3-point range before that shot.
Harmeling said he ranks Tuesday’s win as “pretty significant” in his young coaching career, but more importantly, he said the team’s 10 seniors want to prove they can grow the program beyond all-state player Kienan Walter, now at North Dakota.
And that starts with Tuesday’s win as part of a four-game week for the Knights.
“I think it speaks to Daven and the coaching staff,” Freeman said. “They want us to win really badly and play to the best of our abilities. We’re not going to stop playing to the best our abilities, no matter who we get.”
Matt Garrison added 14 points and Joe Mills had 11 for the Knights.