Wildcats prepare for loaded Leavenworth tournament


By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

As they have every year under Washington Wildcats boys basketball head coach Eric King, the Wildcats begin their journey to a state crown in Leavenworth, Kan., this year.

And as it is every year, the tournament appears loaded on paper.

"Leavenworth is always one of the best tournaments," King said. "You can always expect some dogfights. The competition is tough, but I expect us to be the victors."

Joining Washington in the tournament will be the host-school Leavenworth, along with Hogan Prep, Raytown South, Topeka High School, Word of Life, North Kansas City and Wyandotte.

Washington draws Word of Life to open things up and would take on the winner of the Hogan Prep/North Kansas City game in the second round if they were to win.

"This is valuable experience for us," King said. "You get some different styles and different teams from all around Kansas and Missouri. It prepares us for state and league."

Two years ago, Leavenworth served as the launching pad to the program's best season ever. Behind Tra'Vaughn White, Washington shocked the metro to win the tournament, defeating perennial powers Raytown South and Hogan Prep along the way.

Washington wrapped that year up with a 22-3 record and a runner-up finish in the 2011 5A basketball tournament.

King reflects back to that season as a source of motivation for this year's team.

"Our seniors this year were sophomores coming off the bench that season," King said. "They have unfinished business entering this season."

Each day, King and the coaching staff get a reminder of the disappointing state championship game.

Hanging in King's office is a picture of a dejected Tra'Vaughn White taken after Washington's loss to McPherson.

"We're very hungry," King said. "We've been practicing four hours a day."

In order for the Wildcats to finish the job this season, King points to his senior class. Deandre King is expected to be the leader of the team this season. King also said Kindred Williams, Kameron Allen, James Jappa and Jaamie Trevillion are other seniors that should lead the team.

"I expect Mi-Mi (Trevillion) to be one of the best point guards in the state," King said.

Along with his senior class, he believes JT Bennett could be the surprise of his team this season. He also expects sophomore Kalem Harrison to become a big contributor as the season begins.

Washington begins its season Thursday at 5 p.m.