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Buccaneers take charge early in Olympic League
As the basketball season hits the halfway mark, the Kingston High School boys team is already eyeing at least one title.
The team, 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the league, continues to benefit from an experienced group that stuck with the sport since their freshman and sophomore years. The team’s success does not come as a surprise, however.
“We’re hoping to go a lot further than last year,” said senior forward Zane Ravenholt.
Though he made his debut two weeks ago, senior transfer Derek Burgess may also prove to be key in advancing the Bucs through the playoffs.
Burgess, at 6 feet 9 inches tall, is the tallest player in the Olympic League. He transfered from Emerald Ridge High School in Puyallup, where he started for the team for two years. He has been on the Bucs roster the whole season, but a sprained ankle kept him from playing until Dec. 17 against Bremerton.
Burgess’s height adds to the height of the starting lineup, with forwards Ravenholt and Sam Byers both standing at 6-foot-4.
Still unsure how Burgess will affect the team’s ability, head coach Blake Conley said he will continue to work with the tall senior.
“We have slowly been working him on the court more,” Conley said, adding that without Burgess, there are plenty of players continuing to improve. “We have guys that will step up either way.”
As one of the lead scorers on the team, Ravenholt said everything began “clicking” for the team this season. In the past, he noticed players working more as individuals; seeking personal accolades. The team seems to have passed that phase as everyone works together, he said.
Among the players that continue to prove their importance on the court, George Hill and Jon George both have made an impact on the season. Hill has become a team leader, and George — after being cut last year — returned with a positive attitude that will help carry the team into the playoffs.
In order to stop the team from making the same mistakes last season, Conley said the players need to keep working on limiting turnovers and strengthening defense overall. The team, which ended last season 13-9 overall, lost all three playoff games. In order to keep that from happening again, the team needs to play more consistently, Conley said.
“We weren’t playing our best ball at the end of the season,” Conley said.
Though the team can finish games strong, Conley said it is typical for the Bucs to start games off slowly, which is something the team can’t afford during the playoffs. In an away game against W.F. West High School, Conley said the opposing team took advantage of the slow start, which is something he does not want to see in league play.
The two-week winter break allowed the team to focus on its shortcomings without much concern over hurting its record.
The Bucs played one league game against Klahowya, which allowed them to practice new plays during non-league matchups, Ravenholt said.
“We had a little break, but its just been basketball, basketball, basketball,” Ravenholt said.
Of the seven games the team has played, two have been home games, but it has not had a visible affect on the players, Conley said. By the end of the season, he hopes the team walks away with an undefeated home record.
“Its good to play road games, it gets the players used to traveling,” Conley said. “As long as there is a basketball hoop, we’re fine.”