Key Players

SF/PF Weston Ide - Weston Ide is now going into his third year as a starter, but this is the first year he'll be expected to be a locker room leader. He’s a proven vet who can more than handle that role. The 6-foot-4 Ide is a consistent playmaker on both ends of the floor.

 PF Sebastian Godina - Similar to Ide, the 6-foot-3 senior Godina will also be relied upon to be a source of inspiration for the team. Godina can be expected to rack up the rebounds and play stifling defense. The three-year starter is always looking to help the team anyway he can. 

PG/SG Mason Landdeck - In the blockbuster move of the off-season, Mason Landdeck made the decision to transfer to Zillah from his former school in Cashmere. Landdeck provides a major jolt of lightning to Zillah’s roster. He’s an all around superstar, and is one of the best pure scorers in the state. 

Overview

The Zillah Leopards are coming off an emotionally-charged 2019 season that ended with them hoisting the Gold Ball trophy this past March.

It was a special season, and their loaded senior class got the sendoff that they were hoping for.

After such a feel good season, a casual observer might believe Zillah took some time off to relax and reflect on their accomplishments. But Zillah head coach Mario Mengarelli viciously denies this proposition.

In Mengarelli’s own words: ‘there is no taking your foot off the gas after winning a title. If anything you stomp on the gas pedal even harder towards the next title.’

So who are the Zillah Leopards this year? The answer to that question is very simple; They’re a team that’s going to win a lot of games.

Dating back to December of 2010, the Leopards have amassed a record of 218-23, that would be a .905 win percentage. For all intents and purposes, it’s a record that defies logic.

How could a team located in one of the most rural parts of the state, be able to consistently dominate schools in areas like Seattle, Bellingham, and Vancouver?

.Again the answer to that is simple. It’s what they do, it’s who they are, and it’s built into their DNA. The Zillah community believes in their hearts that they will never stop winning. 

There is certainly an undeniable energy around this year’s team. This season they’re chasing their third state title in four years, and they absolutely have the personnel to get it done.

It all starts with their two senior power forwards, Weston Ide and Sebastian Godina. For three straight years now, these two players have played almost flawlessly in the low post. Their strengths lie in rebounding and defense, but they’re also both very efficient scorers.

A potential addition the starting lineup this year could be another power forward in 6-foot-3 senior Ben Kibbe.

Kibbe is actually committed to the University of Utah to play baseball, but his athleticism translates well to basketball. He’s now able to dunk a basketball with ease, and he could be a breakout player this year.

Holding down a lot of minutes in the backcourt is going to be 6-foot-2 junior Mason Landdeck and 6-foot-1 sophomore Claysen Delp. These two work off each other well, because they’re both dynamic scorers, and teams won’t be able to zone in on just one of them.

When either of those players need a breather, look for 5-foot-11 senior Wesley Avila to contribute productive minutes. He’s described by the coaching staff as having excellent defensive ability.

Also making a push for playing time this season is a few underclassmen newcomers in G Keegan Waldman, G Khalid Abrera, and G Apol Medrano. They are all products of Zillah’s well stocked farm system, and it’s likely at least one of those guys will turn into a star player.

A deep sleeper to know about would be 6-foot-4 freshman forward Luke Navarre. He still has plenty to work on with his game, but the coaches are excited about what he might turn into.

 Projection

Normally when a program wins a state championship, there’s some drop off in production the following season. It’s just incredibly difficult to replace lost seniors, and recreate that magic from the previous season. I really don’t feel that rule applies to Zillah this season (or really any season for that matter.) It can’t be understated how much having Mason Landdeck in the building improves their chances. Combine that with a host of young players that are chomping at the bit to prove themselves, and it’s no wonder excitement is as high as ever. Feel free to pencil them in very lightly at the top of your 1A state rankings.

Key Games

Ellensburg 12/3

Seattle Academy 12/28

@ La Salle 1/25

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