2018-19 Team Preview: Ephrata Tigers
PG Trenton Kleyn - A true floor general that will lead the Tigers this year. Two years of varsity experience under his belt. Knows the offense well and is as trustworthy as you'll find.
PF Hunter James - Will be counted to deliver in all categories. The well built 6-4 senior could lead the group in rebounds. Also will play physical defense and attack inside.
PF Josh Benthem - A tremendous complement to James in the low post. Another 6-4 guy that can score inside and out. Well rounded athlete that was an MVP receiver in football.
With the defending CWAC Champs Selah out of their star player Elijah Pepper, now is the time for another team to capitalize.
The Ephrata Tigers believe this is their chance to take control. They've quietly strung together six straight winning seasons, and the league title may be the next step.
Head coach Brandon Evenson took over the program in 2004, and since then has three playoff appearances and one state title to his name.
Right now he's building his current roster around three year varsity guys Trenton Kleyn, Hunter James, and Josh Benthem.
They balance out the starting lineup well. Kleyn brings the lightning with his ball-handling and quickness. James and Benthem bring the thunder with their rangy defense and rebounding.
None of those three were All-League performers last year. There's a very good chance at least one, if not all three, will be All-League this season.
Joining Kleyn in the back court will be rotating guards Lakota Lange, Jayce Moore, Seth Elliot and Tyler Mack.
Lange will primarily start games, and Moore, Elliot, and Mack will come in off the bench and provide valuable minutes.
Giving the team extra juice on defense will be 6-1 wing Carter Cleveringa.
Even though there's already two star big men on the roster, there's plenty of excitement over three other power forwards.
6-5 junior Boe Hesse had a lot of development on JV last year; he'll have ever chance to carve out a role now.
Sophomore Kyle Hendrick had varsity experience last year, so he should see an increase in minutes. Also junior Ravinder McConnell will be a good player off the bench.
One thing that stands out about this team early is their depth. Just about every team preaches they have depth, but then on game day you see them rolling out the same six or seven guys.
Evenson believes this is one of the deepest teams he's had during his tenure. It is very likely he'll give his players a chance to establish themselves early.
It's a group that's going to give every possible effort to balance out their offensive attack. As much as they like to push the pace, they're also determined to give their talented bigs a chance to work inside.
Projection: The CWAC is one of those rare conference's that doesn't feature the same two or three teams at the top of the standings every single year. You could make the argument there's more parity here than any other league in the state. The Tigers absolutely loaded up the front part of their schedule. Dates with Cashmere, Toppenish, Selah and Ellensburg make for a brutal opening stretch. It should however give us a good idea where this team stands. Their success will ultimately come down to whether their three big time seniors live up to their potential. If the stars align, Ephrata can make the state tournament.
@ Prosser 1/4
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