King’s Way Christian and Seton Catholic coaches said it was a case of two teams who are very familiar with each other.
Knights junior Giovanny Evanson called the offense “sticky,” as neither side was able to find a rhythm over the first three quarters.
But in the waning moments of Tuesday’s Trico League boys basketball showdown, King’s Way was able to get itself unstuck and pull out a 32-23 win. The Knights clinched their third straight league title with one regular season game left to play Thursday at La Center.
“Obviously it’s a weird feeling, being such a weird game, but getting the ‘dub’ is really all that matters in the end,” Evanson said. “I’m glad we were able to pull it out and come (through) down the stretch.”
King’s Way (11-4, 6-1) scored 13 points in the final quarter, 11 of which came in the final three minutes.
Alex Fulton’s corner 3-pointer started the run and broke a 21-21 tie, before Evanson found an opening inside for a layup, then set up Matthew Belefski for another basket underneath.
Evanson, who finished with eight points alongside teammate Jamison Duke, iced the game by making two free throws with 15 seconds left.
“It’s one of those things where we both know each other really well, so it’s not going to be a shootout. We just know each other’s stuff too well,” King’s Way coach Daven Harmeling said. “They did a really good defensively, they made us really uncomfortable.
“Gio opened up some things for us down the stretch and took over a little bit. Having a kid like that (who’s 6-foot-4), can handle it and create for himself is a luxury, for sure.”
Seton Catholic coach Aaron Jenniges agreed with Harmeling.
Although the Cougars (13-4, 5-2) took a 15-13 lead into halftime, they were unable to sustain it during a third quarter in which they went scoreless until converting a layup with 56 seconds left. The Cougars scored just eight points in the second half.
Seton Catholic’s Jacob George led all scorers with nine points.
“They were able to score in the fourth and we just couldn’t,” Jenniges said. “We had a couple defensive breakdowns. I told the boys, you’re going to have a few during the game, we’re not going to get everything perfect, we just have to usually score better.
“I told them in the huddle, it’s like a football game when you keep going four-and-out and you’re making your defense work over and over.”
Tuesday’s result means King’s Way is locked in as the No. 1 Trico seed for the District 4 tournament beginning Feb. 10, while Seton Catholic is the league’s No. 2 seed.
“I feel like we’re getting better every game,” Evanson said. “Even though offensively we might not be scoring the most, I feel like we step up as a team and we’re getting closer as a team as well, which is very important for us.
“I’m excited to head into the postseason, and I hope we can get the ‘dub’ Thursday so that can give us some more momentum heading into the district tournament.”
KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN 32, SETON CATHOLIC 23
SETON CATHOLIC — Tyler Tran 0, Dax Clifton 2, Brady Angelo 1, Jacob George 9, Rico George 6, Breckin Miller 3, Jack Jenniges 2. Totals 9 (1) 4-7 23.
KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN — Jamison Duke 8, Aiden Peterson 3, Giovanny Evanson 8, Alex Fulton 7, Matthew Belefski 2, Will Gunn 4, Brayden Schiefer 0. Totals 12 (2) 6-7 32.
Seton 5 10 2 6—23
King’s Way 6 7 6 13—32
JV — Seton Catholic 54-47