Key Players

SG Owen Ellis - Four year contributor on varsity. The 6-1 guard has really expanded his skillset. Used to primarily be a distance shooter, but can now drive to the basket and create his own opportunities.

PF Sawyer Jenks - He's an athletic 6-5 big man that can rebound and also shoot the three. Tremendous asset for an undersized roster. Defensively He'll match-up with the most physical players.

SF Angel Farias - One of the top defenders in the conference. Top notch athlete that brings high energy to the first unit. Will be counted on to be a high volume rebounder.

Overview

The Royal Knights took a huge step last season when they finished 23-5 and advanced to the state tournament. It was their first playoff appearance in over a decade.

There's plenty of reason to believe they can get back to that point.

While they did lose a couple All Leaguers in Corbin Christensen and Isaac Ellis, the rest of their starting lineup remains intact. Much of their bench also returns.

Looking at the trajectory of the South Central (East) Conference; there's only a couple teams that realistically could challenge Royal for the title.

The head coach of the Knights, Ray Valle, is going into his second year as the man in charge. He's hopeful to build a winner that can last for generations.

A couple guys that know how to win are Angel Farias and Sawyer Jenks. Their impeccable chemistry on the football field always translates well on the hardwood.

There aren't many players they'll match their athletic ability.

Shooting guard Owen Ellis is a candidate to lead the team in points. The coaching staff has placed high expectations on him this season.

Joining Ellis in the backcourt will be 5-8 point guard Gage Christensen. Just like on the football field, his shiftiness can make defenders look silly. He'll get a lot of minutes running the offense.

A pure scorer that could find himself in the starting lineup is sophomore Caleb Christensen. He's a trigger happy shooter that shows no fear.

Rotating in the backcourt will be junior Tyler Allred. He can come in at point guard or shooting guard, wherever he's needed.

A newcomer that will come in for Jenks and Farias is Gill Rincon. He's another young guy that should do well coming off the bench and improving his skillset.

Given the the talent of this group, they plan on coming out of the gates running. This means getting their shots up quick, and being fast in transition.

It feels like there's a new swagger around this program. It's a school that's known for their football prowess, but you may have to start adding basketball to that list.

Projection: The question has become clear with this group; How well do they stack up with the rest of state? In their first state game last year, the jitters may have been there, as they fell 50-46 to Seattle based Northwest. Now with a year of experience under their belt, their confidence is going to be at an all time high. It's never a good idea to bet against a group of winners like these guys. This may be the year they put Royal Basketball on the map.

Key Games

@ Connell 12/14

Zillah 12/21

@ Wahluke 1/8

For more Eastside team previews, follow me on Twitter! @micah_chen