KW boys back on the hardwood, finally

Team gaining traction after storm, holidays put stop to game schedule.

The King’s West boys basketball team has shook the snowflakes and returned to the grind.

The Warriors, sidelined for the better part of two weeks due to inclement weather, finally returned to the gym this week to prepare for the rest of the season.

With games against Quilcene and Riverside Christian cancelled before Christmas, the team hasn’t seen action outside practice since a 56-33 victory against Chimacum Dec. 9.

“It’s been sparse,” first-year coach David Kerkhoff said Monday.

But Kerkhoff is relatively pleased with where his stands given the cancellations and limited practice time. At 2-1 entering Tuesday’s game against Mount Vernon Christian, the Warriors had already doubled their win total from last year’s team, which finished 1-16.

“I think we’ve been doing OK,” Kerkhoff said. “(But) we’ve got a lot to improve on.”

Those improvements, Kerkhoff said, include committing fewer turnovers and being efficient on offense to compensate for a lack of size. Junior Jared Wright, who is listed at 6 feet 4 inches, is the team’s tallest player.

“The biggest news is how much they know I hate turnovers,” Kerkhoff said. “We’ve got to make something happen on every possession.”

Kerkhoff said he’d like to see the team commit 12 turnovers — or fewer — per game.

“I can live with that,” he said.

The team will receive a huge boost when senior Drew McCullough, who has been sidelined due to injury, returns to the lineup later this week. A three-sport athlete, McCullough led the team in scoring last season and can play nearly every position on the floor. To begin with, however, he will come off the bench.

“It’s going to take him awhile to get melded in,” Kerkhoff said.

While McCullough’s absence has posed certain challenges, such as who to look to for scoring, Kerhoff said it’s been good in many ways for the team.

“The good news is these guys have learned to play together and all of them have had some good games,” Kerkhoff said. “I think it’s all been better, they are learning not to rely on him.”

Senior forward Sam Weldin was leading the team in scoring with 13.6 points per game entering Tuesday’s game — results were unavailable at press time — and sophomore guard Josh Kreifels was averaging 12.6.

As the season progresses, Kerkhoff said he hopes to develop at least one more scheme on both offense and defense to expand the team’s repertoire. With so many cancellations and hiccups thus far, the players simply haven’t had time to learn more plays.

“Because of the lack of practices, we haven’t added things,” Kerkhoff said. “We’ve got to do the best with what we know.”

On defense, Kerkhoff said, the Warriors will continue to pressure the ball, using speed and quickness to generate turnovers.

“We play fast, we play furious and hard,” he said.

Additionally, Kerkhoff believes the players need to develop a can-do, winning attitude. With the majority of last year’s 1-16 team back, including six seniors, the players simply need to experience success to learn how to win.

“It’s new to them to be winners,” Kerkhoff said. “They’re starting to feel they can be winners.”

Kerkhoff pointed to the only loss of the season as of Tuesday, a 41-35 setback against La Conner Dec. 5 in which the team faltered down the stretch when the score was tight.

“We just didn’t know how to win in those last couple minutes, take the victory,” he said.

The Warriors have five games in a nine-day span beginning Jan. 6, when they visit Tacoma Baptist at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s going to be rigorous,” Kerkhoff said of the upcoming schedule.

The team’s next home game is against Evergreen Lutheran at 4 p.m. Jan. 10.

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