By most accounts, King’s Way Christian senior Giovanny Evanson had a great game Wednesday against Columbia River.
Perhaps the only person to disagree with that assessment is Evanson.
“I think he had 13 (rebounds) and six assists to go with his 30 points,” King’s Way coach Daven Harmeling said. “That stat line looks great. But the look he had on his face after the game was that he didn’t think he played that well. It’s kind of fun to have that stat line and not play well.”
Evanson sparked a 9-0 run early in the second quarter that helped the Knights open up a lead they would not relinquish on their way to a 54-44 season-opening win over River on Wednesday.
At times, King’s Way looked ready to pull away, only to have the Rapids hit some shots to keep them close until the final minute.
“We came out a little flat,” Evanson said. “We were definitely getting used to the feel of the game. It was our first game in a while, but it was fun. Columbia River had a great team, and it was a good game, for sure.”
King’s Way Christian, like many teams in the early season, is working its way through illness. The Knights had a team retreat about a week ago, and illness worked its way through the program.
“Tonight looked like two teams that were battling the flu last week,” Harmeling said. “Both teams were just dying to make a shot. Obviously, there wasn’t a lot of shot-making tonight, and both teams looked gassed.”
Last season, King’s Way Christian advanced to the state playoffs by winning the third-place game at district, then advanced to the Yakima SunDome with a win in the regional round.
Led by Evanson, the Knights return the core of their roster from last season with a couple of new faces mixed in.
“We’ve added some new pieces, some transfers,” Evanson said. “We’re just looking to get up and down the floor more, really pushing in transition and looking for easy shots. … We’re still trying to learn how to play with each other. I think tonight was getting a lot of the bugs out, and hopefully next week we can play a lot better.”
The Knights will need that as their upcoming schedule is stacked with tough opponents and bigger schools.
“If you look at our schedule next week, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense from the outside to play at Skyview and then back-to-back games at Prairie and at Mountain View,” Harmeling said. “That’s a tough stretch. But it’s going to distill down some things that are true about us as a team. But we always do that stuff to expose what areas we need to grow in.
“We’ve always said that we are trying to prepare our team for the road and not prepare the road for our team.”
The early road for Columbia River has been bumpy as the Rapids (0-2) are still trying to put everything together under first-year coach Travis Drake.
Drake thought the Rapids played better defense Wednesday than they did in their 73-60 loss to Battle Ground on Tuesday night. However, the offense was lacking on Wednesday night.
“The offense we have is designed to be finding and hunting for the best shot, and that’s tough when you have five guys who can score and want to score,” Drake said. “I think our challenge right now is we don’t have guys on the court trying to create offense for other guys on the court.”
The Rapids are suffering from growing pains trying to learn a new system with a roster that sports just four seniors.
“We are young, but we are talented,” Drake said. “So I don’t think any of us are using the fact that we aren’t very old as an excuse. I feel like tonight and last night were two games that we could have had. … What I love about the group of guys I have is there is a high level of frustration, but they’re trying to figure this thing out.”
Harmeling believes the Rapids will get there.
“River will probably experience more growth from the beginning of the season to the end of the season than any other team in the county,” Harmeling said. “They’re young, and Travis is going to do a great job with them. Maybe we were lucky to play them right out of the gate after they played Battle Ground last night.”