BENTON CITY - 6'6" senior Jake Thomas planted his imposing frame inside the paint last night and it paid big dividends for the Sunnyside High School boys basketball team.
Thomas poured in 20 points and collected 10 rebounds, both game highs, to pace the Grizzlies to a 56-36 non-league victory against the Ki-Be Bears.
"He played big for us last night," said second year Sunnyside Coach Steve Urrutia.
The epitome of Thomas' dominance Tuesday evening came when he served up a thundering dunk, off an above the rim pass from teammate Tony Cantu.
Also coming up big for the Grizzlies was senior Reid Schilperoort, who got Sunnyside off to a great start by popping in 11 of his 15 points in the opening quarter.
"Reid was going right to the hoop with most of his shots," said Urrutia, although one of his buckets came on an offensive putback, the result of one of his seven rebounds in the contest.
Behind Schilperoort's early game heroics, the Grizzlies forged a 21-10 lead on Ki-Be. Taking charge early had been a concern of Urrutia's through the first four games of the season, but last night his Grizzlies (0-1, 2-3) came out fired up and ready to play.
"We were attacking the basket," Urrutia said. "We had been playing back on our heels. But last night we were much more aggressive.
"We had a much quicker tempo going last night. We can get away with running a faster paced game because of our bench," he said, explaining he doesn't hesitate in subbing in anyone if it means maintaining the upbeat style of play he likes to see from his Grizzlies.
Shooting-wise, Sunnyside found the net much more consistently than it had through the first four games of the season. The Grizzlies knocked down 54 percent of their shots from 2-point range (21-for-39), and were 1-of-6 from treyland.
Defensively, the Grizzlies limited Ki-Be on its home floor to taking just 29 shots. The Bears shot just 41 percent from the field, although they made 4-of-11 shots from behind the 3-point arc.
Sunnyside, behind the 17 combined rebounds from Thomas and Schilperoort, easily outboarded the Bears, claiming a 30 to 12 advantage on the glass.
"A win like this is going to help us get our confidence back," said Urrutia. "We need to keep the momentum going when we travel to Connell this Saturday."
Sunnyside 21 13 14 8 -56
Kiona-Benton 10 10 11 5 36
FG-S'side 22/45, Ki-Be 12/29. 3-pt. FG-S'side 1/6, Ki-Be 4/11. FT-S'side 11/20, Ki-Be 8/10. Rbd.-S'side 30 (Thomas 10, R. Schilperoort 7), Ki-Be 12. TO-S'side 17, Ki-Be 11.
Sunnyside-Cantu 0, Zammaron 3, Marquez 1, Simmons 4, Heckert 0, L. Schilperoort 1, Crimp 5, R. Schilperoort 15, Thomas 20, Pacheco 0, Duran 5, Engel 2.
Kiona-Benton-A. Johnson 17.