Footballers eye success on the hardwood

December 22, 2009

By Staff

Joe Evans (5), Issaquah senior guard, drives around Eastlake senior guard Ryan Sikma as Issaquah’s Nick Price follows the play Dec. 18 during the second quarter. Eastlake won, 54-38. By Greg Farrar

Joe Evans (5), Issaquah senior guard, drives around Eastlake senior guard Ryan Sikma as Issaquah’s Nick Price follows the play Dec. 18 during the second quarter. Eastlake won, 54-38. By Greg Farrar

The Skyline, Liberty and Issaquah high school boys’ basketball teams each have a corps of football players who are coming off successful seasons.

Duplicating the success of the football teams might be a major challenge for the basketball teams. However, it’s definitely something for the local teams to shoot for this season.

Skyline’s basketball team has some players who were starters on the 4A state championship football team. Liberty’s basketball team has players off its football team that finished second in the 3A state tournament. Issaquah also has some players off the football team that reached the 4A state quarterfinals.

Thus far, none of the basketball teams are off to a hot start. However, it’s a long season and each has a shot at making postseason tournaments.

Patriots have new coach

Liberty has only recorded two winning seasons in its history, the last being in 1988. However, new head coach Jevon Green hopes to lead the team to a winning season in 2009-2010.

“We’ve got some talented kids,” Green said.

The Patriots have played five games so far this season and have come up short in each one.

However, four key football players were missing from the team the first two games: Chandler Jenkins, Trey Wheeler, Troy Solly and Devin Bennett.

Jenkins, who had a spectacular football season as a running back, will be the team’s starting point guard. Wheeler, Liberty’s quarterback in football, is both a shooting and point guard. Solly, an outside linebacker in football, will be the starting center. Bennett, a starting defensive back and one of Liberty’s leading tacklers in football, now serves as one of the team’s key defensive players. Green said Jake Bainton, an all-league receiver in football, might also join the basketball team.

Green said it would likely take a few weeks for the football players to adjust to basketball.

“We’re going to have a real big second half,” he said, regarding the second half of the season, when the football players will be fully adjusted.

During the first two weeks of the season, Green said guard Farzam Shokri and forward Kylan Marlow — both juniors — played very well.

Shokri led the team in scoring with 28 points in the first two games, and Marlow has led the team in rebounds, averaging six to eight per game.

“He’s been having to do everything as far as rebounds,” Green said regarding Marlow.

Green said he thinks Liberty would have defeated Mount Rainer in the first game of the season if Liberty had the additional players. However, the Patriots only brought eight players to that nonleague game.

Since that opener, the Patriots have gone 0-3 in the 3A/2A KingCo Conference.

Spartans have added depth

Skyline coach J. Jay Davis said he’s noticed a new depth of team cohesiveness this year. And he likes it.

“It’s immeasurable,” he said. “It’s the difference between being 15-5 or 5-15 for some teams.”

The Skyline boys went 8-12 overall in 2008-2009 and will look to its four returning starters — post Cory Hutsen, guard Connor Gacek, forward Kasen Williams and guard Austin Weige — to provide the needed leadership through the tough 4A KingCo Conference competition.

Williams, one of the best receivers in the state, again comes off a sensational football season. He will be joined on the basketball court with two other members of the state championship football team, Miles Edwards and Cooper Pelluer.

Another promising newcomer for the Spartans this winter is Michael Simpson.

The Spartans are off to a promising start, winning three of their first four games and going 2-1 in league play.

Skyline defeated Newport 54-44 Dec. 18. Hutsen paced the Spartans with 14 points. Williams contributed 11 points and Gacek added nine points.

Davis said he looks forward to every game this season.

“I think we’re a really intelligent basketball team,” he said. “There’s just really good chemistry. Of all the teams I’ve been associated with, this is the best chemistry I’ve seen.”

Eagles are reloading

Issaquah entered this season with a new look. The Eagles saw seven players from last season’s team graduate, including five starters. Issaquah was 13-10 last season, 11-5 in 4A KingCo.

“I have a young team that will be getting its varsity game experience on the job,” Issaquah coach Jeff Altchech said.

Joe Evans, a 6-foot senior, is Issaquah’s most experienced player. He has been the Eagles’ sixth man the past two seasons. Nick Price, Nik Landdeck and Steven Rael all got their feet wet playing varsity last season, and Altchech said he expects them to take on larger roles this season.

Among the promising newcomers are Derek Quan, Evan Peterson and Kyle Weber. Peterson was an all-league receiver in football and set several school receiving records.

In addition to lack of varsity experience, another concern for Altchech is his team’s lack of size. Erick Lemke, a tight end on the football team, is the Eagles’ tallest player at 6-4.

Issaquah’s emphasis this month has been on team defense and rebounding. Altchech said he hopes these will be strengths this season.

The Eagles got off to a promising start this season, winning two nonleague games. However, Issaquah then entered league play and has lost four straight.

Issaquah lost to Eastlake 54-38 Dec. 18. Price, Issaquah’s leading scorer on the season, paced the Eagles with 13 points. Landdeck and Rael each had seven points.

Issaquah also lost to Lake Washington 57-37 Dec. 15. Price was the Eagles’ leading scorer with 11 points.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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