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News / Sports / Prep Sports

King’s Way season over after 58-41 loss to Freeman at 1A state

Knights look to learn from experience as most players return next year

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 2, 2022, 4:02pm
3 Photos
King's Way Christian guard Jamison Duke (1) sets a screen for teammate Giovanny Evanson in a Class 1A boys basketball state tournament game against Freeman on Wednesday in Yakima.
King's Way Christian guard Jamison Duke (1) sets a screen for teammate Giovanny Evanson in a Class 1A boys basketball state tournament game against Freeman on Wednesday in Yakima. (Micah Rice/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

YAKIMA — Playing with their backs against the wall for the past two weeks, knowing a loss would mean the end of their season, the King’s Way Christian boys basketball team responded well in the face of pressure.

The Knights won three loser-out games (two in districts, plus one in the Class 1A regional round) to reach the Yakima Valley SunDome as the 12 seed, the lowest of any team still standing in the state tournament.

“We came through and fought really hard to get here,” junior Giovanny Evanson said. “Just being the underdog was a big thing. I’m really proud of our guys.”

Against a well-rounded Freeman team on Wednesday, however, the Knights hit a wall and were unable to summon another bounce-back effort in an eventual 58-41 defeat. The loser-out, winner-to-quarterfinals game ended the Knights’ season with a 16-6 record.

“We got a little worn down with their physicality and their size,” King’s Way head coach Daven Harmeling said. “We were just playing six guys tonight, so I think fatigue got us a little bit. At the end of the day, they were just able to get continuously better looks than we were.”

Trailing for much of the first half, King’s Way cut the deficit to six at halftime thanks to four straight Evanson points, the latter two coming on a steal in the backcourt with under 30 seconds left.

Freeman (22-2) got the lead back up to seven points early in the third quarter, before the Knights whittled it down to two. Evanson, who finished with 28 points, buried a pair of 3-pointers in the final 1:32 of the third quarter to get King’s Way to 34-32.

Once again, the run didn’t faze Freeman.

The Scotties’ defense held the Knights scoreless for nearly three minutes to start the fourth, while an 8-0 run on baskets from Quin Goldsmith, Hayden Oyler and a pair of free throws from Boen Phelps to put Freeman up by 10.

Four Freeman players reached double figures in scoring led by Taylor Wells’ 13 points, 12 points apiece from Phelps and Ryan Russell, plus 10 from Goldsmith.

“I would say they were way more physical than us,” Evanson said. “They just killed us down low, just a bigger team. They brought the fight to us, for sure.”

Aside from the challenging road the Knights took to get to state, their run was also noteworthy because of how young they were, with only two seniors on the roster in Will Gunn and Aidan Peterson.

With a big junior class led by starters Evanson, Jamison Duke, Matthew Belefski and Alex Fulton, plus a handful of sophomores in the mix, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see King’s Way back on this stage a year older and a year wiser.

“We won’t be short on motivation to work over the summer, guys individually and collectively as a team,” Harmeling said. “I hate to say a good way to lose, but losing as a good team that exposed some weaknesses can be really good in the long run. I look forward to that process.”

The important part for the Knights, Harmeling said, is to avoid the assumption that the team will automatically be better just because the players are a year older.

“Either that loss will fuel us, or if we operate with complacency, we’ll be in trouble next year,” he said. “Really, really bright future for the program, without question.

“This is really good for our team to experience this. I feel like in the long run it will be good for us, and I’m really excited to come back next year and hopefully get the job done.”

FREEMAN 58, KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN 41

KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN (16-6) — Jamison Duke 2, Aiden Peterson 3, Ryan Tyler 2, Giovanny Evanson 28, Alex Fulton 3, Matthew Belefski 2, Hunter Baron 0, Will Gunn 1, Brayden Schiefer 0. Totals 15-46 (4-18) 7-11 41.

FREEMAN (22-2) — Boen Phelps 12, Cole Clark 3, Ryan Russell 12, Quin Goldsmith 10, Taylor Wells 13, Jack Schneider 0, Ryan Delcour 0, Hayden Oyler 8, Rhett Hatcher 0, Gabe Schulhauser 0. Totals 21-52 (3-18) 13-15 58.

King’s Way 8 9 15 9—41

Freeman 11 12 13 22—58

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