Despite losing a pair of Mid-Valley League games this past weekend, the Sunnyside High School boys basketball team maintained its grip on the No. 6 spot in the conference standings.
The Grizzlies were pounded at Selah, 72-53, on Friday night and absorbed a tough 65-61 loss at home Saturday against visiting Hanford.
Sunnyside (3-7) and Wapato (2-8) are currently vying for the sixth and final berth to the District tournament. The two clubs have a return engagement scheduled for the last weekend of regular season play, on Feb. 13. The Wolfpack won the first meeting, defeating the Grizzlies on Sunnyside's home floor by a 57-56 count back in mid-January.
In looking ahead to this coming weekend, Sunnyside travels to Ellensburg (5-5) Friday night and hosts West Valley (10-0) on Saturday. Sunnyside Coach Steve Urrutia admits that nabbing a victory against either the Bulldogs or the Rams at this point in the season would be akin to stealing a win, saying that it's always tough playing at Ellensburg and West Valley is...well, West Valley.
"Our hope this coming weekend is to get a win, to solidify our number six spot in league," said Urrutia. "It will be difficult, but it can be done."
If the Grizzlies are to turn the corner, so to speak, they'll need their perimeter players to start knocking down 3-pointers on a much more regular basis, which in essence should open up the middle of the lane a bit more for 6'6" Jake Thomas.
Last Friday at Selah, the Grizzlies weren't effective at all in bombing in their long range shots, which allowed the Vikings to sag off the perimeter and clog the lane.
"The less effective we were outside, the more they packed it in on Jake (Thomas)," said Urrutia.
The end result was Selah holding Sunnyside's big man to just 12 points in the contest. No other Grizzly scored more than nine points against the Vikings.
Selah, on the other hand, had four players score in double figures, including unheralded Dane Peterson, who knocked down a game high 25 points.
"We didn't plan on the Peterson kid going off on us," said Urrutia, explaining that Sunnyside stuck its defensive specialist, Pete Marquez, on Selah's top scorer this season-Eric Bell. Marquez did a superb job in limiting Bell's effectiveness, holding the Vikings' scoring threat to just 14 points.
Saturday at home against Hanford, the game could have easily gone the Grizzlies' way. The Falcons, though, prevailed in the end, with Adam Dabney and Tyler Cathey combining for a 41-point effort to lead Hanford to a hard fought 65-61 victory.
The Grizzlies rallied from a one-point halftime deficit to take a four-point lead late in the third period, only to watch as Hanford closed out the third quarter with four straight points to square the contest at 44-all. In the final period, a back-and-forth affair, the Falcons ended up outscoring Sunnyside by a 21-17 margin.
The 6'6" Thomas threw in 17 points for the Grizzlies in the losing cause. Perimeter shooters Cody Heckert and Greg Gilleland, the latter who just got called up to the varsity this past weekend, each bombed in a pair of 3-pointers enroute to scoring 18 and 8 points, respectively, for Sunnyside.
The Grizzlies outscored Hanford from beyond the 3-point arc, knocking down 6-of-18 shots. The Falcons connected on 3-of-8 3-point attempts.
. Bob Story,can be contacted at
(509) 837-4500, or e-mail him