YAKIMA – Someday, the King’s Way Christian boys basketball team will look back fondly at this season’s triumphs and friendships.
That day, however, wasn’t Friday.
The Knights’ season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion with a 58-57 overtime loss to River View in the fourth-place semifinal at the 1A state tournament.
“In the locker room we talked about how we all feel the same,” King’s Way coach Daven Harmeling said. “I don’t know if it’s pain or numbness. Unfortunately, the only thing that’s going to flush that out is time. Probably a lot of time.”
What made the loss harder for King’s Way to accept were two crucial officiating decisions in the final 10 seconds.
Most frustrating to the Knights was a foul call on a non-obvious moving screen as King’s Way inbounded the ball, trailing 58-57 with 7.7 seconds left.
After River View missed a free throw with 6.9 seconds left, King’s Way had a fast-break chance to win the game. Gage Koenders went up for a driving lay-in as time expired, but the shot was ruled blocked as King’s Way pleaded for a foul.
In a season that saw King’s Way win 20 games, reach state for a sixth straight year and have Brady Metz surpass 1,000 career points, the Knights felt Friday’s loss was an unfitting end.
“The enduring things will be the relationships we have and the memories,” Harmeling said. “That’s the thing you really hold onto in a moment like this. We know what ultimately is most important, but it’s so raw right now.”
Metz, who led the Knights with 20 points, hit a 3-pointer to give King’s Way a 50-47 lead with 15 seconds left in regulation. But River View tied the game on a 3-pointer by Baulio Mendoza.
William Bailey scored 24 points for River View, which is near Kennewick. The Panthers (23-3) will play Cashmere for fourth place on Saturday.
Before the late drama, Friday’s game was a see-saw affair. King’s Way started cold, shooting just 26 percent in the first half. But the Knights trailed just 25-21 at halftime.
King’s Way seemingly gained the upper hand in the third quarter. Bryson Metz scored eight of his 15 points in the quarter, which ended with the Knights on an 11-2 run to take a 38-30 lead.
But River View wasn’t done. The Panthers responded with an 11-4 run to pull within 42-41.
Brady Metz, who entered Friday with exactly 1,000 points, made two crucial 3-pointers near the end of regulation. The first put King’s Way up 47-43 with 2:15 to play.
The next, Metz’s sixth 3-pointer, was a tough off-balance shot that put the Knights up 50-47 with 15 seconds left.
But after a River View timeout, the Panthers’ inbound pass near midcourt found Mendoza open in the corner for a game-tying 3-pointer with 7 seconds to play. Bryson Metz, who had 15 points, had a driving short-range attempt at the buzzer that was off.
River View led 58-55 in the final 30 seconds of overtime. But a Knights steal, followed by a Bryson Metz basket, cut the deficit to one with 15 seconds left.
King’s Way then got the ball back after their pressure half-court defense forced an over-and-back violation. But the controversial moving-screen call would follow.
While memories of that play will sting, Harmeling hopes his players will look back at the season with pride.
“I thought the seniors set a really high bar for what is required of a student athlete at King’s Way,” Harmeling said. “As far as the person you are, your dedication to your sport and academics, that’s what will be passed down to the younger kids.”
RIVER VIEW 58, KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN 57, OT
RIVER VIEW (23-3) – William Bailey 24, Nick Monds 0, Braulio Mendoza 14, Trevor Rogers 6, Tyler Bussell 6, Mark Rocha 6, Jude Senger 2. Totals 24 (4) 6-12 58.
KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN (20-8) – Kobi Cason 6, Gage Koenders 0, Brady Metz 20, Bailey Meek 0, Bryson Metz 15, Giovanny Evanson 2, Ty Snider 4, Mason Packer 0, Bryce Dodge 0, Kai Butterworth 10. Totals 23 (6) 5-10 57.
River View 14 11 5 20 8—58
King’s Way 10 11 17 12 7—57