Senior guard Mario King is Topeka High’s leading scorer and has been efficient.
King is averaging 11.4 points through five games–including a season-high 17 in a win over Emporia–and shooting 45.4 percent from the field. His .592 true shooting percentage ranks fourth among guards in Topeka and his eight 3-pointers rank fifth.
“I feel like I’m a vocal leader on the court and my teammates look for me to score and they want me to have the best game possible because they know when I’m having a good game, we’re all having a good game,” King said. “I’m trying to make all of my teammates better as much as possible. I like to play defense, I like to score, I like to get assists and get them the ball as much as I can.”
King is looking to continue his success and catch the eyes of college coaches. He is scheduled to take the ACT in February.
“I plan on going to college somewhere and hopefully get some college coaches looking at me after the season,” King said.
The Trojans have started the season with a 2-3 record.
“I feel like our start is pretty good, but not the best start of what we had wished it would be,” King said. “I feel like everybody is finding their roles and getting the places that we need to get to. We have a new transfer in with TC (Smith) and he’s been helping us with the leadership role and I feel like I’ve taken on a leadership role as well with a new team and we’ve all got a new attitude so it seems like it’s going pretty well.”
Topeka High is coming off of a 67-61 overtime win at Emporia with King leading the way with 17 points and five 3-pointers. Topeka High led by as many as 10 in the second half before Machias Jackson hit a free throw with a second left to send the game to overtime.
“When we play Emporia it’s always a tough battle–I don’t know what it is,” King said. “We got off to a great start at the beginning of the game, but towards the third quarter we kind of slowed it down and we didn’t get to the style of play that we’re used to playing. We turned the ball over and they came back. Towards the fourth quarter I just felt like they wanted it a little more and they came back and got a lead with five seconds left. But, Machias Jackson came up clutch for us and then in overtime he took on his role as a point guard and he wanted the ball in his hands as much as possible and he knocked down some free throws for us and we got the win.”
Topeka High let halftime leads slip away in losses to Liberty (Mo.), nine points, and KC Washington, 13 points, at the C.N.B. Tournament in Leavenworth.
“We did not know how to close out a game, but getting that win against Emporia and closing it out it showed us how to get a win instead of letting it fall out of our hands,” King said. “I feel like that win got us going pretty good so I’m pretty confident going into the next against Junction City.”
Topeka High’s next game is at Junction City on Jan. 5 and will be using the break to improve on different areas.
“I think we should definitely get better at on-ball defense because I see a lot of us getting blown by on defense, including myself, and when our defense is good our team is good,” King said. “And when we have a powerhouse like big John (Madden) in the lane we just need to get it to him and when it touches both sides of the floor it works for us and that’s our gameplan—to score the basketball and make sure John has it in his hands every possession and we’ll do fine.
Madden is a 6-foot-6 senior center, who is averaging 10.4 points on 58-percent shooting from the field.
“John is just a powerhouse on offense and defense,” King said. “He’s our leading rebounder right now and it’s hard for teams to get in the lane when he’s in there. He blocks shots and does everything on the defensive end. We just need to get it to him more so he can put the ball in the hoop on the offensive end.”
Junior 6-foot-1 point guard J’Shaliek Hendricks has also been a positive for the Trojans averaging 7.4 points on 48-percent shooting.
“That’s our leading point guard right there, he’s just a mastermind on the floor,” King said. “He’s a good floor general and I trust him with the ball in his hands 100 percent to get it to me or TC or Jarin (Downing) to score the basketball. He’s a great point guard for us and I like what I’m seeing from him this year.”