Getting everyone on the same page at the same time has proved difficult for the Sunnyside High School boys basketball team.
Such was the case again this past weekend, as Ellensburg and West Valley rolled to easy victories over the Grizzly cage team.
"We never had everybody clicking on all four cylinders," Sunnyside Coach Steve Urrutia said of Friday's 66-58 loss at Ellensburg.
At home Saturday against West Valley, the Grizzlies seemed content with playing soft ball.
"We weren't aggressive against West Valley. We weren't taking it to the hoop," Urrutia said in explaining Saturday's 97-59 loss to the Rams.
The two weekend defeats lowered Sunnyside's Mid-Valley League record to 3-9, 4-14 overall. Yet despite sustaining the two losses, the Grizzlies remained one game ahead of Wapato for the league's sixth and final berth to the District playoffs. Sunnyside will close out regular season play this coming weekend, needing just one win at either Wapato (2-10) or at Prosser (1-13) to advance to the postseason.
Even though the Grizzlies are just one victory away from moving on to the playoffs, Urrutia said his club is viewing both games this coming weekend as must-win affairs.
"Our approach is we have to win both games," he said.
In Sunnyside's first meetings of the season against Wapato and Prosser, the Grizzlies lost by a single point to the Wolfpack and shellacked the Mustangs by a 57-41 score.
The whuppin' Sunnyside handed out to Prosser, though, didn't compare with the throttling the Grizzlies took Saturday night from West Valley.
Oddly enough, the Grizzlies opened Saturday's game looking like they were going to give West Valley, the state's No. 2 ranked 3A team, all it could handle. The early lead Sunnyside forged, though, quickly went by the wayside midway through the first quarter when the Grizzlies missed four or five relatively easy shots. The Rams then exploded in the second period, increasing their 15-11 first quarter lead to 36-23 at intermission.
West Valley ended any suspense the Grizzly faithful may have had by outscoring Sunnyside 30-16 in the third quarter. A 31-20 run by the Rams in the final period accounted for the final 97-59 score.
The Rams, sitting atop the conference standings with an 11-1 mark, played without their 6'8" star, Andrew Strait, Saturday night. Strait suffered a leg injury the previous night against Selah, and his return to the floor in time for the playoffs is iffy. In Strait's absence, teammates Corey Wehr and E.J. Schoen picked up the slack against Sunnyside, tossing in 27 and 26 points, respectively.
The lone Grizzly in double figures was senior point guard Jessie Ramirez with 15 points.
Ramirez and teammate Reid Schilperoort, a junior, also led the Grizzlies in scoring the previous night at Ellensburg. The duo each knocked down 14 points in the 66-58 loss. Ramirez got all 14 of his points in the second half.
Sunnyside's big man, 6'6" Jake Thomas, was held to 7 points by Ellensburg. The Bulldogs shut out Thomas after intermission.
"It wasn't that Jake wasn't hitting his shots in the second half," said Urrutia. "He just didn't get a lot of touches.
"We started casting it off from the outside more in the second half. Our shot selection wasn't the greatest from some of our guys," Urrutia added.
Ellensburg had four players in double figures-Andy Aaron with a team high 14 points, Josh Griffith with 12, and Riley Seeback and Jason Brozovich with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Aaron canned 8 of his team high 14 points in the final quarter, when the Bulldogs outscored Sunnyside by a 29-23 margin.
"We were only down by two at the end of the third quarter, but our offense sputtered in the fourth quarter," said Urrutia.
. Bob Story,can be contacted at
(509) 837-4500, or e-mail him