The Kent-Meridian Royals opened the high school boys basketball season with two wins for just the first time since 2014 by taking down the Decatur Gators, 75-59.
It is the first time the Royals have started the season 2-0 since 2014, and finished the season with a 10-10 record. They beat Bonney Lake, 76-57, to open this season Dec. 3.
The Royals were led in their Monday night win over Decatur by junior center Trey Sopher, who scored 18 points and had 12 rebounds.
Coach Marcus Graham said he told his big man he needed to be more aggressive.
”He listened, and he then performed at a high level… That’s big for him,” Graham said.
Sopher said he was prepared.
“I was just focused the whole day,” he said. “I woke up thinking about the game. I was honestly just locked in.”
That mindset also kept him laser-focused during the game.
“I didn’t even know I was that close to a double-double in the game until my coaches told me,” Sopher said.
Kent-Meridian also had strong performances from seniors Jordan Bailey and Tariq Hill. Hill had 17 points and Bailey tallied 13. There were 25 fouls called on the Gators, resulting in 32 free throws for the Royals. Bailey and Hill accounted for 22 of those shots.
Graham was really proud of the way his team played.
“We’re scrappy and we get after it,” he said. “I love what I am seeing in these first two games.”
Kent-Meridian is looking to make the state tournament for the first time this century. It is going to take a lot of work in a league where the Royals play Auburn, Kentwood and Federal Way, but those teams can be seen as what it takes to make that jump.
“We got high hopes, we set goals,” Graham said. “One game at a time though. We set goals and we are crossing them off one at a time.”
The Royals face their biggest challenges of the season so far over their next two games. On Dec. 8, Kennedy travels to Kent to take on the Royals, and on Dec. 13, they take on Federal Way.