MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — The King’s boys basketball team is starting to know its way around Yakima pretty well.
The Knights defeated Vashon Island 51-41 in a 1A state regional game Saturday night at Mountlake Terrace High School to punch their ticket to the 1A state quarterfinals at the Yakima SunDome for the fourth consecutive season.
“Just a great, gritty, gutty effort,” said King’s head coach Rick Skeen. “I’m proud of them. I’m excited that we’re going to have another few days together.”
King’s, which has made it to state title game three seasons in a row, defeated Vashon Island 62-32 in the semifinals last season on their way to its first championship since 2002. The game was much closer this time around, with the Pirates building a 16-9 lead after the first quarter.
The Knights battled back, grabbing a one-point lead at halftime and held Vashon Island scoreless in the third quarter to pull ahead.
“We challenged our kids at halftime: ‘You’re 16 minutes from your season being over,’” Skeen said. “‘If you want to play another week you’ve got 16 minutes.’”
King’s answered the challenge. Junior Corey Kispert netted a game-high 32 points, five rebounds and four assists.
“It wasn’t like he was taking the ball and jacking it up every time,” Skeen said. “I was probably more in a place where I was like, ‘We’ve got to get him more shots.’ He’s so unselfish. As we get deeper, we’ve got to make sure we’re giving him more and more shots because he’s just such a special player.”
Cole Mitchell added 10 points for King’s (20-3), all in the Knights second-quarter run. Senior Sam Yates led Vashon Island (17-6) with 12 points.
Despite being the defending state champs, Skeen doesn’t view the third-ranked Knights as the favorites.
“We’re not really the team to beat,” Skeen said. “Zillah played really well against (Lynden Christian) today. We just got to enjoy it. And I think that’s how you play your best basketball. Let’s go have fun, enjoy each other and see what happens.”
At Mountlake Terrace H.S.
Vashon Island—Edgar Polkat 5, Sam Schoenberg 10, Alex Symbol-Godfrey 4, Sam Yates 12, Sean Delargy 5, Langston Dziko 0, Casper Forest 2, Jahmiah Hoogen 3, Josh Tillman 0. King’s—Cole Mitchell 10, Koa Wilkins 2, Josh Frohardt 0, Corey Kispert 32, Luke Wicks 0, Sam Echelbarger 5, Chewy Zevenbergen 2. Records—Vashon Island 17-6 overall. King’s 20-3.