King's beat La Center 65-58 in the third/fifth-place game at the SunDome.
YAKIMA — They played with humility, hunger and even a touch of humor.
For the 10th-seeded King’s Knights, it all added up to a 68-56 victory over No. 2 La Center and the third/fifth-place game in the Class 1A state boys basketball tournament Saturday at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
Fittingly, the guy wearing the biggest grin at the end was Eyon Zevenbergen, who dominated with 31 points and 20 rebounds.
“I just went out and had fun,” the 6-foot-7 senior said.
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It had been anything but fun the night before in a tough, 43-42 semifinal loss to No. 11 King’s Way Christian of Vancouver — one day after the euphoria of shocking top-ranked, unbeaten Lynden Christian, 73-50. King’s made just 1 of 22 field goals in the first half Friday and trailed 21-11 — but still had a great chance to win it in the end.
“We came out (Friday) intimidated for some reason, and they just came out and just punched us in the face,” said Zevenbergen, who had seven points and 18 boards in that one. “That loss was pretty excruciating. After beating LC by 25 (actually 23) and then losing to that team, it was a very humbling moment.
“But we bounced back, and I just wanted to go out with a bang.”
He banged the boards big-time all tournament, finishing with 65 rebounds in four games. Nine of the 20 Saturday were on the offensive end and Zevenbergen recorded six putbacks in the second half as the Knights pulled away. They led just 37-35 early in the third quarter.
This by a player with no scholarship offers — yet.
“I expect my phone to start ringing this week,” King’s coach Rick Steen said.
No other King’s player scored more than the eight points each by freshmen Tyler Linhardt and Jordan Hansen. The 6-6 Linhardt had averaged 21 points in the first three tournament games, but gave up his starting spot Saturday to senior Luke Bobin, who responded with seven points and five rebounds.
“Our freshman wanted to give him that opportunity in his final game,” Skeen said. “That’s a selfless act. That’s what we’re about.”
And they’re all about winning, too. This was the seventh consecutive trophy for King’s (22-6) and 24th in 29 state appearances.
“I’m proud of the consistency of our programs,” said Skeen, in his seventh season at the helm.
La Center (23-4), which 64-59 lost to No. 3 Zillah in the semifinals, was led by Matt Bryant with 18 points, including four of his team’s nine three-pointers. The smaller Wildcats were out-rebounded 50-26.
Skeen was impressed with his players’ resiliency after Friday’s loss, when they had a late one-point lead and chances to seal the game at the free-throw line.
“Sports are about life and bouncing back from adversity,” he said. “It’s a hard thing to do. I thought our kids played really hard and unselfishly. I don’t think people realize how hard that is to do.”
- In the Class 2A girls tournament, No. 4 White River (25-4) took fifth after losing to No. 3 Clarkston 62-61 in the third/fifth-place game. Lee Audrey Norris scored 14 for the Hornets. Ashlyn Wallace scored 18 to lead the Bantams (23-3).
- In the Class 2A boys tournament, Renton (22-9) bounced back from a disappointing semifinal loss to beat Pullman (21-7) in the third/fifth-place game 61-42. Demarco Williams led the Indians with 12 points.
- In the Class 1A tournament, the Bellevue Christian boys and girls took home trophies. The second-ranked girls team (23-3) beat No. 5 Elma 41-36. The 12th-ranked boys team (18-8) lost to top-ranked Lynden Christian (25-1), which had 23 points from Cole Bajema, 78-48.