Royal Knights turning basketball culture around with a little swag

Print Article

  • Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Royal senior Owen Ellis (23) drives the baseline during the regular season game against Naches Valley. Ellis is one of five Knights changing the culture in Royal City.

  • 1

    Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Royal senior Corbin Christensen drives the lane during the regular season. Christensen and the Knights are playing in the SCAC District Tournament for the first time since 1975.

  • 2

    Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Royal coach Ray Valle led the Knights back to the postseason for the first time in 43 years.

  • Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Royal senior Owen Ellis (23) drives the baseline during the regular season game against Naches Valley. Ellis is one of five Knights changing the culture in Royal City.

  • 1

    Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Royal senior Corbin Christensen drives the lane during the regular season. Christensen and the Knights are playing in the SCAC District Tournament for the first time since 1975.

  • 2

    Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Royal coach Ray Valle led the Knights back to the postseason for the first time in 43 years.

ROYAL CITY — In 1975, Gerald Ford was in the White House. Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” ushered in the new year at No. 1 on the charts. A postage stamp cost 10 cents and the price of gas was 53 cents a gallon.

It was also the last time the Royal boys basketball team won the SCAC East conference championship. It’s been 43 years since the Knights have moved on to the postseason. They’re back, so how’s that sound?

“It sounds like it’s been too long,” senior Corbin Christensen said.

It might take some time, if ever, to turn Royal City into a basketball town, having won three consecutive 1A football state championships. But what was once a sparse fan base on game night has turned into a capacity crowd and a following in support of a team with just three losses on the year.

“After games, I would get phone calls and texts from community members and fans saying the boys are playing well. Some people would give me advice (on how to coach),” Knights coach Ray Valle said with a laugh. “I don’t mind the Monday Morning Quarterbacks. At least they’re paying attention to Royal basketball and they’re there on game night.”

By June 7, 1975, John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” had moved to the top of the music charts and that’s a little more in tune to the way things get done on the Royal Slope.

“I would say the intensity and the work ethic is a lot different than last year,” said Christensen, who played on the three state football championship teams. “This is the farthest I’ve ever made it in basketball. A lot of our swag comes from bustin’ our butts in practice. Having that confidence is because we work just as hard in practice as we do in a game. It helps to come out with a little bit of swag and confidence, because we’ve earned it.”

The Knights (17-3) are in uncharted waters, but did beat La Salle in the first round of the SCAC District Tournament. They march on together, according to senior Owen Ellis, the team’s leading scorer.

“We’re all very competitive and nobody likes losing. So that’s the one thing we all have in common,” Ellis said. “The energy we’re playing with is what’s exciting to me, and I think people are starting to notice. Last year, it was more like no one cares, and now we’re playing in front of full gyms and people are coming out to see us.

“We’re all really close and I think we represent Royal well. It feels like we have a good shot at making it to state and that’s what we’re working hard to do.”

What’s happening in Royal City is more of a state of mind, than a we're going to state, Valle said.

“We’re all working hard and having a great time and all that feeds into our game plan,” he said. “It’s day and night from years past. The kids are looking out for each other. Some of the kids are coming off of successful programs and they know how to win.

“We had to translate that into basketball, which we did. And now we have the edge and are going in the right direction.”

It’s the first time in 43 years Knights basketball has ventured off the Royal Slope to take on the best of the 1A basketball teams. They’re going to see just how far a little swag, a little confidence and a whole lot of hard work can take them. Royal faces Naches Valley in the district semifinals on Saturday. The venue and time is still to be determined.

“ … Well life on the farm is kinda laid back,

Ain't much an old country boy like me can't hack.

It's early to rise, early in the sack,

Thank God I'm a country boy … ”

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at rharwood@columbiabasinherald.com

Print Article

Read More High School

Knights tied for longest winning streak in nation with win over Mt. Baker

November 19, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald ROYAL — Inside linebacker Jack Diaz saw the ball laying there on the ground like a big, ol’ brown Easter egg, scooped it up on the Mt. Baker 15-yard line and rumbled 85 yards down the far sideline fo...

Comments

Read More

ACH scores school record 100 points, advances to state semifinals

November 18, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald MOSES LAKE — The Lions Field scoreboard read 00-16 when the final whistle blew. No, reigning champion Almira/Coulee-Hartline (ACH) wasn’t shut out by upstart Crescent in the state quarterfinals; the...

Comments

Read More

ACH opens state title defense against No. 7 Crescent

November 16, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald MOSES LAKE — Brandon Walsh wants his team playing its best when the calendar turns to November and, if things go to plan, December. “Throughout the season, we set the pace of practice in a way we’re...

Comments

Read More

Ephrata’s Benthem, Othello’s Perez CWAC Players of the Year

November 16, 2018 at 5:00 am | Columbia Basin Herald There’s a reason Othello junior Isaiah Perez is being recruited heavily in the Pac-12 and NCAA Division I programs throughout the nation. He already has scholarship offers from Brigham Young Universi...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(509) 765-4561
PO Box 910
Moses Lake, WA 98837

©2018 Columbia Basin Herald Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X