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King’s Way Christian seals Trico boys basketball title

Third-quarter flurry gives Knights dominant victory

By , Columbian sports reporter
Published:
3 Photos
King’s Way’s Kobi Cason trips while dribbling up the court during a game against La Center at La Center High School on Thursday night, Feb. 6, 2020.
King’s Way’s Kobi Cason trips while dribbling up the court during a game against La Center at La Center High School on Thursday night, Feb. 6, 2020. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

LA CENTER — King’s Way Christian is the 1A Trico League boys basketball champion.

That achievement would have been hard to envision just 16 days ago when star King’s Way Christian point guard Bryson Metz winced in pain, clutching his ankle as the Knights put the finishing touches on a victory over Seton Catholic.

But on Thursday, the Knights de-throned the three-time league champion La Center Wildcats in dominant fashion, winning 65-53 in a loud Wildcats gymnasium.

“There isn’t any person in our basketball family that thinks we’re better without Bryson,” said King’s Way coach Daven Harmeling. Metz has missed the past two weeks with a broken bone in his foot. “I think when that happened, the guys looked at each other and knew individually they had another level they could take their game to.”

What could have derailed the 2019 1A state runners-up season instead proved the rallying point they needed. King’s Way (15-4, 9-0) has won all seven games since, by an average margin of 29 points. Thursday night was supposed to provide more of a challenge.

14 Photos
Cayson Bay, son of King’s Way assistant coach Kal Bay, stands with the team during the National Anthem prior to their game against La Center at La Center High School on Thursday night, Feb. 6, 2020.
La Center vs King’s Way Basketball Photo Gallery

The Wildcats and Knights have been equal foes in recent memory. The past 10 meetings had an average margin of victory of just 5.3 points. Just twice in that span were the teams separated by double digits.

But like a restless volcano, King’s Way is always on the brink of eruption. In the third quarter, the Knights’ offense did just that. Up 30-25 at the break, with help of a last-second heave by Ty Snider that caromed off the backboard and through the net, the Knights went on a 14-3 run.

They ended the quarter leading 53-34, a 9-for-13 shooting effort in the frame the deciding factor.

“The culmination of years of those guys getting jumpers and having good habits,” Harmeling said. “That wasn’t their first time making shots in a big game.”

King’s Way led by as many as 22 points. Kobi Cason and Brady Metz paced the Knights with 18 points apiece. Gage Koenders added 16 points.

“Once one person gets hot, everybody gets hot,” said Cason, who also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished four assists. “Our team is full of shooters so we’re going to set them up.”

The Knights also controlled the glass, out-rebounding La Center 36-26. Bailey Meek led the way  with 10 rebounds and four blocks.

“That’s just my job,” Meek said. “I’m not really a shooter. I just go out there and try to get rebounds and blocks.”

The Knights will enter the district playoffs as Trico’s top seed. First, they play Columbia-White Salmon on Saturday.

La Center (14-6, 8-2) which was paced by Hunter Ecklund’s 24 points and six assists, will regroup and prepare to host a district first-round game on Feb. 14.

KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN 65, LA CENTER 53

King’s Way — Giovanny Evanson 0, Kobi Cason 18, Gage Koenders 16, Ty Snider 8, Mason Packer 0, Bryce Dodge 3, Kai Butterworth 2, Justin Frahm 0, Brady Metz 18, Bailey Meek 0. Totals 24-53 (10-30) 7-11 65.

La Center — Hunter Ball 10, Tobey Deemer 7, Parker Ball 1, Shawn Child 0, Jeremy Humphrey 0, Isaiah Romero 2, Riley Fender 2, Cedric Hubler 7, Hunter Ecklund 24. Totals 22-56 (4-24) 7-17 53.

King’s Way 13 17 23 12—65

La Center 10 15 9 19—53

Columbian sports reporter

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