By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
At The Herald we have given a lot of attention to what teams and players are expected to perform at a high level this season in Wesco, but after covering Friday night’s boys basketball game between Sultan and Granite Falls, won by the Turks 61-45, I can tell you that there is at least one star in the Cascade Conference.
Sultan’s Brock VandenEkart scored 33 points, including 13 in the final quarter to turn a close game into a blowout. VandenEkart stand 6-foo-4 and appears as though he would be tough for any defense to stop, but the real strength of his game comes from not forcing his offense and letting the game come to him. The Turks are disciplined in their offensive approach and move the ball around the court looking for an open shot. That approach benefited the whole team on Friday. The Turks also did a nice job of turning defensive stops into offensive opportunities in the final quarter to earn the victory.
VandenEkart shoots a high percentage because many of his shots come from within eight feet of the basket. Sure, after defenses get a chance to see him on film adjustments will be made, but this kid looks as though he will be a force to reckoned with throughout the season.
Another big plus for the Turks as they get the season rolling is VandenEkart’s willingness to accept a leadership role, something that Trichler seemed most happy about after the game had ended.
Sultan wasn’t the only good basketball team on the court of Friday. What made this game entertaining to watch was that both teams were very disciplined. The game was played largely in the half court, neither team really got out and ran much until the Turks pulled away late. But like Sultan, Granite Falls was very patient on the offensive end as well. The Tigers have a guard who can really shoot it in Riley Larsen, but they don’t rely solely on him. They are balanced and look for the best available shot rather than trying to always get the ball in the hands of their best scorer.
Led by VandenEkart, the Turks played great in the fourth quarter and they were no doubt inspired by their home crowd. But for three quarters, this was a closely contested basketball game that looked like it could come down to a final shot.
The pace of this game might not have been what I and other Herald reporters have been used to seeing in Wesco, but that is not to say the quality of basketball was any worse. In fact, I enjoyed covering this game perhaps more than any game I have covered so far this season because of how well both teams played as a unit.
With many closely matched teams in the Cascade Conference, if this is the quality of basketball that is to be expected every game, it should be a fun season.
At the very least I came away with one thing from this game — Wesco isn’t the only league in the area with quality players and teams.