ROYAL - The word came down before the SCAC 1A District game against Naches Valley that Royal senior Owen Ellis needed 48 points to surpass 1,500 career points.
Forty eight ey? That’s a LeBron-like number. But if you break it down to 12 points per quarter, small bites seemed doable and the 6-foot-2 wing took a run at it, scoring 33 points to lead the Knights past the Rangers 63-47 Friday night in the final Knights (16-4) home game of the season.
Ellis will surpass the milestone before he’s done, but it just would have been fun to get it done in front of friends and family and all that black and gold love.
“I definitely want to reach 1,500 and I knew 48 tonight was a stretch. But as long as we win, I’m OK with when (the 1,500 career points) comes,” said Ellis, who had 10 rebounds and five assists to go with 33 points. “We’re playing with a lot of defensive intensity right now. Offensively, we’re in a groove with a lot of people that can score. I think we’re good moving forward. The goal is to get back to the Dome and see if we can’t play for a state championship.”
The Royal way is never about one guy. Midway through the second half, it looked like old times on the football field. Sawyer Jenks came down with a defensive rebound, turned and threw a floor-length, overhand throw to a streaking Gage Christensen. It looked a little like a go-route and on the football field it would have been a touchdown, but the 5-7 point guard ran out of real estate before he could haul in the ball for the layup.
“I put a little too much on it,” said Jenks, who’ll be throwing fastballs for the baseball team soon enough.
The Knights led 17-5 early, then made it 30-17 with a little over two minutes left in the first half. But the collective thought wasn’t too far off of Ellis, who scored 12 in the first quarter and 13 in the fourth quarter.
“We definitely look to get Owen the ball because he’s the best in our league and I think the best in many of the other leagues across the state,” Gage Christensen said. “If he needed 15, our offense definitely would have gone through him. But 48’s out there. But he can score at will and if he can do it all, he can do it all, and we’re happy to get it to him.”
With basketball being a game of runs, Naches Valley (13 -7) went on one of its own with a 20-7 run to close the gap to 42-40 with 5:50 remaining.
“We’ve all played on the big stage in other sports, so we don’t panic,” said Angel Farias, who will be playing football at Central Washington University next fall. “We just stayed with it and pulled away again.”
The East No. 2 Knights got back on the running game and finished with a 21-7 run to run away with their 16th victory of the season. They are scheduled to play the top seed from the West Zillah on Saturday at Zillah High School. Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m.