Experience the key
Editor’s Note: The Kings Basketball teams will kick off their 2014-2015 campaigns this Saturday, Nov. 29 with exhibition games. The women’s teams will travel to Wilmington. The men’s teams will host Lakota East at Kings High School for an OHSAA Foundation Game.
The Kings athletic spotlight will officially shift from Knight Stadium to the high school gymnasium this week, as the Knights varsity basketball team tips off their season with an exhibition game against Lakota East on Saturday, Nov. 29, and the first “official” game against Lakota West on Friday, Dec. 5.
The Knights have been improving over the past few seasons, and a number of returning starters should ensure that this season follows suit: Senior players Jared Wheeler, Cameron Fails, and Cole Palmer have all been named captains this year and said they are looking forward to the upcoming schedule.
“I think we’re gonna do great this year,” said Wheeler. “We have a lot of returning players and a lot of players who improved their skills over the summer.”
FULL SCHEDULE INSIDE
He said he is particularly looking forward to the match against Walnut Hills.
“They have a good team every year, every single year, and it’s always a good game,” Wheeler said. “Our first game is important too, though. Lakota West, man, they crushed us last year, and we need our revenge.”
One challenge the Knights face is filling roles vacated by last year’s seniors.
“But I think we have it under control,” Wheeler said. “I’m looking forward to coming out with a good record for the season and going far in the tournament.”
Senior Trey Staton, former varsity player, has changed roles and will now assist Coach Kevin McClung with the JV team. Staton said he looks forward to his new role, as a mentor to younger players.
“Being able to step back and watch them grow will be an amazing thing for me,” he said. “Seeing them work hard and practice and watching that translate into all of the games is important to me. I think the best part of all of this will be getting a new perspective from someone who’s a senior, not yet an adult, and just finished playing.”
Although he will no longer serve in a player’s role, Staton predicted a strong year for the varsity squad.
“I think that we will win ECC for sure. The team’s great, really. I think that the biggest challenges this year will be meshing the players together; we have to find a combination of people that work really well together. We have a lot of depth on the team this year. The amount of talent is something else.”
Staton projected that the varsity starters will be Wheeler, Fails and Palmer, most likely joined by Jayden Sayles and Tyler Mitchell.
Long-time varsity head coach Mike Stevens echoed the optimism, citing experience as the prime factor this season.
“We have a lot of returning players, we have five returning from last year who got a lot of time in,” Steven said. .
Stevens’ one area of concern, he said, is transitioning Knights football players into basketball mode. Half of this year’s team just came off a successful — and playoff-prolonged — football season, and Steven must prep them for the hardwood in fairly short order.
“That will probably be the only big challenge for starting off the season,” Stevens said. “Being very competitive in every game we play is key. I think we have a good chance to win every game we’re playing.”
Tip-off against Lakota West is 7:30 p.m. Friday at Kings. The season schedule is: