By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
It was the first time that I had seen Caleb Taylor play live and he put up 40 points, something I have been wondering if I would see any player do live this season.
So of course I was going to take notice.
I was already excited going into covering Tuesday’s game between King’s and Sultan because fellow members of the Herald Staff, prep writer David Krueger, prep editor Aaron Swaney and myself have really embraced our weekly power poll. It is the way we have chosen to evaluate teams throughout the season and how far we think that they can go. King’s has moved all the way up to eighth on that list on the strength of their record, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to see them play live this season.
So I did my own evaluating on Tuesday, during their 72-63 win over the Turks. I wanted to know if the Knights were justified being ranked so high in our poll. In my mind the answer is yes. King’s might not have the pure athleticism that some of the teams above them or around them have in the poll, but here is what they do have and it more than justifies their ranking.
First, they have Taylor. I could go on and on about the things he did against Sultan. How he could shoot, how he could drive, how he makes almost all of his free throws. But I will put it this way, he scored 40 points — enough said.
The Knights have a surrounding cast to go with Taylor that are threats to score as well. So offense isn’t a problem for the Knights.
The thing I was perhaps most impressed with was their defense. The slow the opponent down and do a lot of trapping which forces a ton of turnovers. I know my sample size of seeing them is small, but what I can tell from talking to both coaches is that was not a fluky one night thing. This is how the Knights play every night and it works every night.
Overall, I would say that eighth place in our power poll is a good spot for the Knights right now. But after seeing them I’m no longer scared to move them higher on the poll either. And when it comes to be playoff time they won’t be judged against other 3A and 4A schools, only 1A schools and I think this is a team that could ultimately bring home some hardware from the 1A state tournament.
As for the Turks, a quick word on them. I continue to be impressed with Brock VandenEkart. If he played for a larger school he would be getting a lot more attention. The Turks may not be as complete of a basketball team as the Knights, but Sultan has enough that they could be a sleeper team in the District 1 tournament.