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Grizzlies limp into playoffs

by Bob Story

The good news is that the Sunnyside High School boys basketball team is headed to the playoffs. The bad news, well...the Grizzlies aren't exactly exploding into the postseason on a positive note.

Sunnyside closed out regular season play Saturday night at Prosser, against a Mustang bunch that had won only one conference game all season long. Long before the Mid-Valley League contest ended, though, Prosser had registered its second victory-a dominating 71-62 decision. The game was clearly over by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

"It was one of those nights where you knew Prosser's shots were going in," said Sunnyside Coach Steve Urrutia.

"The closest we got to them in the fourth quarter was seven points. It was senior night for Prosser, and they came up big against us.

"They had three players score in double figures, and another four guys who scored at least seven points," Urrutia added.

Urrutia explained that one of the reasons his club may not have performed at its best Saturday night is the relief his players felt after sewing up a postseason berth the previous night, via the Grizzlies' 71-52 win at Wapato.

The victory knocked the Wolfpack (2-12, 4-16) out of the playoff race and assured the Grizzlies of a postseason berth. Sunnyside (4-10, 5-15) opens District tournament play this coming Wednesday night at Hanford (9-5, 13-7). The game will be a season ending, loser-out affair.

Urrutia said his club is pleased that it drew the Falcons for Wednesday's playoff game.

"If we had our choice, that's who we wanted," Urrutia said.

"We feel Hanford is our best match-up. They have big kids like us, and our guards are similar in terms of how they play," he said.

There's also the fact that Sunnyside defeated the Falcons on Hanford's home floor, 59-56, back on Jan. 20.

"We're looking forward to the game," Urrutia said. "We're looking at game tape now, and are in the process of putting together a game plan."

Hopefully, that game plan will resemble the style of play the Grizzlies executed against the Wolves last Friday. In the middle two quarters, Sunnyside outscored Wapato by a 40-22 margin.

"In the second and third quarters we played up-tempo. We really pushed the ball up the floor," said Urrutia.

"We really feel that when we can go eight or nine kids deep, we can wear the other team down like we did against Wapato," he said.

The heart of Sunnyside's attack Friday night proved to be junior Greg Gilleland, a recent call-up from the JV. Gilleland poured in a game high 19 points against the Wolfpack. The Grizzlies also got double-digit scoring from juniors Jake Thomas and Cody Heckert with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Teammates Jessie Ramirez and Reid Schilperoort added performances of 8 and 6 points, respectively.

Wapato had only one player in double figures in the scoring column, coach Eli Juarez's son, Marshall, who tossed in 17 points.

Saturday at Prosser, the Mustangs jumped out to a 31-24 halftime lead. The 'Stangs increased their lead to 10 points by outscoring the Grizzlies 18-15 in the third quarter. From there, Prosser coasted to the relatively easy 71-62 victory. Ryan Eucker nailed 13 points to lead the Prosser attack, followed by Cody Nichols and Mike Iztas with 10 apiece. Prosser finished the season with a record of 2-12 in conference play, 3-17 overall.

Despite sustaining the loss, Sunnyside had four players reach double figures in the scoring column. Schilperoort had a team high 13 points, and scoring 12 apiece for the Grizzlies were Thomas, Gilleland and Kyle Van de Graaf. Gilleland ripped the net for three treys in the fourth quarter.

. Bob Story,can be contacted at

(509) 837-4500, or e-mail him

at bstory@eaglenewspapers.com

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