Senior Night? The 2017-2018 Kayhi Kings don’t even know what that is. Going into the season, the Kings are the only team in their conference without a senior on their roster. Without a senior on the team, many Kings have had the opportunity to grow into leadership roles.
In his second year in the starting five, junior Marcus Lee said that leadership was the first thing that the team had to figure out this season.
“The leadership role was the very first thing we thought about at the beginning of the year,” said Marcus. “We don’t have any seniors so we were all kind of confused on who to listen to over time, so I sort of molded myself into that role.”
Junior Cody Kemble said that he feels everybody on the team has taken up a role, instead of just one individual.
“I think we’ve all taken our roles quite well,” said Kemble. “It took us a little bit to get used to it because for most of us it this year was the first that we got playing time on varsity. We don’t really have one leader that we all look up to, besides Coach Stock, so we all just hold each other accountable and make sure we’re doing what we should be.”
Also being a team with no seniors, Kayhi has had the challenge of replacing the graduated seniors from last season. With that, Kemble said that they have had a lot of players step up to take on the energy from last season and put it to work this year.
“We’ve had a lot of guys step up this year to help match the intensity and heart of the seniors last year,” said Kemble. “We’ve also lost three starters this year, so it’s hard to put guys in established positions like Jake, Brent, and Shakim last year.”
On another personal note, Lee said getting in the position to undertake the lead on the team has been tough.
“Replacing Shakim is and was a hard shoe to fill, but we have many people on the team who play with the same mindset as Shakim,” said Marcus. “As well as Jake Taylor, who brings the same energy that his brother Brent did, and Kristian Phil who has filled the role as our number one shooter.”
Leading off his Kayhi basketball career in the starting five as a freshman, sophomore Chris Lee said it was hard a first, but he feels he’s already gained a little responsibility for the team.
“It was a challenge for me to come into the program as someone who is learning from all of the other guys that have been on the team since their freshman year,” said Chris. “Now, having to be that guy who tries to get everybody where they need to be I think I’ve grown a lot from last year.”
While taking responsibility for the team, Marcus has also taken responsibility as Kayhi’s top scorer averaging 28 points per game.
“Upping my ppg was just an outcome of my time in the offseason,” said Marcus. “I’ve worked very hard for it and I’m glad that it’s paying off. But being an offensive threat isn’t just scoring, it’s about cutting hard and getting the defense to focus on you so that it frees up another player for a basket. I try to let the game come to me as much as possible.”
As you can tell, the offseason has played a big part in the success of the Kings. Chris had also taken advantage of it, and improved his PPG by almost eight points for the season.
“The offseason really helped,” said Chris. “Working hard, practicing shots I’d take in a game raised my confidence. Knowing I’ve made those shots in practice gives me a whole new mindset coming into this season, and trying to use what I practice in the game.”
The Kayhi Kings will start their bid to earn a spot in the state championship tournament tomorrow night against the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears.