SHORELINE — With its offense struggling, King’s decided to make a point of getting the ball to its forwards.
One of them responded by making several points.
Sophomore Calvin Kispert scored 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the Knights’ offense came alive, putting up a season-high 69 points in a 69-54 victory over Granite Falls on Wednesday night in a Cascade Conference boys basketball game.
“Our inside play has struggled,” King’s head coach Rick Skeen said. “We made the decision early on (in this game) to go into our big guys.”
Kispert, who had been averaging about four points per game in the Knights’ first six contests, used the opportunity to shine. After his career-high 27 points, he was very complimentary of his fellow Knights who continued to feed him the ball.
“I’ve got to give it up to my teammates,” Kispert said. “A lot of those (points) were from good passes from my teammates.”
King’s, which was celebrating Homecoming Wednesday night, had been averaging 49.3 points per game so far this season, which Skeen wasn’t exactly thrilled about.
“I lose sleep every night because it just takes 50 to beat us,” Skeen said.
Granite Falls finished with 54 points thanks to some good passing by the Tigers. With King’s in a full-court-trap defense, Granite Falls whipped the ball around looking for open shots. The Tigers were successful early in the game, with an 8-0 run that helped give them the lead at the end of the first quarter.
But in the third quarter the King’s offense caught fire, almost doubling its halftime point total with 26 points. Kispert had 10 points in the third. Knights’ senior guard Caleb Taylor, who was right on Kispert’s tail with 25 points and nine rebounds, also netted 10 in the pivotal quarter.
“It’s a big confidence booster,” Kispert said. “Our offense has been lacking. This is our highest score of the season. Hopefully, we can build off that and score more points.”
The Knights (4-0 league, 5-2 overall) opened the fourth quarter with a 10-1 run that put them ahead by 17 and all but shut the door on a potential Granite Falls comeback.
No other King’s player scored over four points.
Granite Falls handed King’s its first conference loss last season, but Kispert said there was no thoughts of revenge for the Knights this time around.
“It’s two different teams,” Kispert said. “We’ve got to go out and play like any other game.”
Junior guard Evan West led a balanced Granite Falls offense with 14 points and three steals. Drew Benson scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds and Brandon Leitzke and Riley Larsen added nine points apiece for the Tigers (1-3, 3-4).
“Granite Falls is really well coached,” Skeen said. “They know all the stuff we threw at them. We had seen West, and he is just a warrior. And, Larsen can shoot the light out. We have a lot of respect for him as a player.”
Skeen says his King’s team is pretty young. There are four seniors on the varsity roster, with two of them starting. The other three starters are sophomores.
“We’ve got good pieces,” Skeen said. “There have been a little bit of growing pains with our youth.”
The coach hopes this can be a breakout game for the Knights. Skeen was pleased to see his forwards take control underneath the basket. And not just in their scoring. The Knights outrebounded Granite Falls 33-15.
“I felt like we needed more balanced post play and we feel like we got that,” Skeen said.
As for Kispert, he’s looking to build on his season-high point total, although he admits it might be hard to reach again.
“I’m going to try my hardest, but I wouldn’t count on 27 every game,” Kispert said with a smile.
At Mike Martin Gym
Granite Falls—Brandon Leitzke 9, Riley Larsen 9, Evan West 14, Dan Matalomani 8, Drew Benson 11, Nick Elvrom 0, Karl Spencer 3. King’s—Andrew Ayers 0, Brian Hughes 0, Caleb Taylor 25, Reid Jones 3, Josh Alexander 4, David Barhanovich 2, Jacob Storkson 0, Daniel Fouty 4, Calvin Kispert 27, Mason Friedline 4. 3-point goals–Leitzke 1, Larsen 1, Matalomani 1, Taylor 2. Records—Granite Falls 1-3 league, 3-4 overall. King’s 4-0, 5-2.