Every season starts the same: teaching the offensive and defensive fundamentals that the coaches want to see, and then letting the players respond to the coaching. The goal is that by the middle part of the season, things start to register with the players and the team peaks at the end to make a run in the post season.
Head coach Dustin Sperling was really proud of this team. “They had a good work ethic, and that made the coaching effective every practice. At the beginning of the year, it wasn’t possible to play man [defense], zone is generally the safer route. But the last two weeks of the year, we were switching back and forth and everything was sinking in.”
Sperling was fortunate to have two returning players from last year’s State team, and he placed a lot of expectations on them. Delonquay Richardson and Marcus Riley were the pulse of the team. As co-captains, they had a lot already invested in the team and knew they would be called upon to led the other athletes. “I think I was the hardest on Marcus all season. He responded and would always fix it and be a leader on the team. Delonquay naturally has a strong work ethic, but he was perhaps the most selfless person on the team. He never concerned himself with points and other stats. He wanted to play defense, set screens, and get rebounds all game.” And that is exactly what he did, leading the conference in rebounds with 11.1 RPG. Other statistical highlights include Marcus’ 103 assists, 2nd in the conference. Sophomore Ammari Johnson led the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game.
The Knight’s season came to a close in the second round of the district playoffs. After an impressive win against Ogden in the first round, the Knights had to travel to Des Moines Christian’s home court, where they were defeated. Sperling’s lasting image of this team is not the wins and losses, but rather how they grew. “More than anything else, this team’s character grew just as much as their basketball knowledge.”