LA CENTER — The King’s Way Christian boys basketball team might have been caught looking ahead to Trico League showdowns when the Knights stumbled Wednesday at Stevenson.
Determined not to repeat that mistake, the Knights came out with a fire on defense that helped propel them to a 51-36 win Friday at La Center.
“We had a lot more defensive alertness tonight,” King’s Way coach Daven Harmeling said. “And we had a lot more attention to detail than we had on Wednesday. That was a valuable life lesson in humility.”
King’s Way got hit with an odd technical on an inbounds play early in the fourth quarter, when the player who made the inbound pass ran along the baseline out of bounds before stepping inbounds.
La Center’s Austin Nixon hit both of the resulting free throws to tie the game 32-32.
But then the Knights got their hands into passing lanes on defense, converting those steals into transition baskets that allowed King’s Way to outscore La Center 19-4 the rest of the way.
“The defense definitely fueled the offense,” Harmeling said. “When they started to get the momentum, it was kind of one of those times as a coach where you’re thinking ‘What do we need to change offensively?’ So it’s really nice to have the defense jumpstart that. It made my job easier.”
Giovanny Evanson scored all 10 of King’s Way’s points in the second quarter and finished with a game-high 19 points. Ryan Tyler added 10 points, hitting four of five free throws late to seal the win.
Nixon had 12 points to lead La Center, which fell to 5-3 in league.
Next up for the Knights is a rematch at home against rival Seton Catholic on Wednesday. Both teams sit tied atop the Trico League at 6-2.
“This is my 10th year coaching at King’s Way, and I was thinking about the different ways the league title has come down to in the past,” Harmeling said. “This has definitely been one of the tighter races that I can remember.
“It’s been a fun year in our league, and I think every fan base has probably had years shaven off their lives because of the stress and tension. But it’s better that way.”
LA CENTER 51, KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN 36
KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN — Will Bump 0, Jaydon Hall 7, Ryan Tyler 10, Giovanny Evanson 19, Matthew Belefski 7, Jamison Duke 6, Dave Struthers 2. Totals 21 (1) 8-13 51.
LA CENTER — Colby Hylton 3, Garrett Maunu 2, Clayton Muffett 6, Cody Gardner 2, Parker McKinney 0, Austin Nixon 12, Jayce Grotte 2, Logan Rainey 3, Anthony Larkin 0, Boston Walker 6, Ryan Kawalek 0. Totals 15 (1) 5-7 36.
King’s Way 11 10 9 21—51
La Center 12 5 11 8—36