The million dollar question entering Friday night's game between the LaSalle High School boys basketball team and Sunnyside Christian was who would show up to play. The answer turned out to be the Knights' Andrew Schutt.
The SCHS junior provided the spark in the late going, and knocked down a team high 18 points.
Friday's road game had a lot of meaning for LaSalle. If the Lightning won, they would force a one-game playoff the following night against Sunnyside Christian for the final northern division playoff spot. Well, by the time it was said and done, LaSalle had Saturday night off.
The Knights used a 23-point fourth quarter to dispose of LaSalle 60-51 to claim the Greater Columbia 'B' League's northern division No. 3 seed. Sunnyside Christian will meet Lyle, another familiar face, in a loser-out first round District game at 4:45 p.m. this Tuesday in Goldendale.
"It was a good game," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar. "Going into the game, I knew there was no way I wanted to play on Saturday."
Wagenaar said he felt if the Knights could jump on LaSalle early they would do well in the game. Jump on the Lightning was just what Sunnyside Christian would do, opening the game with a 21-9 run.
Wagenaar said the Lightning attacked the Knights with a zone defense to start the game.
"We ran some beautiful sets against it," said Wagenaar.
LaSalle scored the first bucket of the game, but before anyone knew it the score was 16-4 in favor of the Knights.
But the second quarter was an unfriendly one for the Knights. LaSalle exploded with a 15-4 run as Sunnyside Christian couldn't hit anything from the field. The only basket of the quarter was a break-away lay-up by Chad Den Boer.
"We missed eight great, wide-open shots," said Wagenaar. "Every one of them was right there."
Wagenaar said LaSalle was able to gain back the momentum by draining some toughly contested shots.
Sunnyside Christian had a 25-24 halftime lead, and struggled to start the second half. The Lightning won the third period 16-12, but the momentum switched midway through the third quarter. Wagenaar pulled Schutt out of the game for a breather, as the struggling Knights were looking for any kind of spark. Trailing 35-27, Wagenaar told Schutt that he needed to make something happen. The Knight junior did just that, going out on the ensuing possession and delivering a long 3-ball, one of four on the night, with 2:40 left in the quarter. Just over 90 seconds later, the Knights had the game tied at 35. LaSalle hit a 3-pointer right at the buzzer to give the Lightning a 40-37 lead.
"That 3-pointer by Andrew was huge," said Wagenaar. "We needed something."
Anthony Wade was big time in the third quarter for the Lightning, hitting three of his four second-half 3-pointers.
"If he doesn't hit those, we would have pulled away sooner," said Wagenaar.
With 40 seconds left in the game, the Knights were up 56-51 when Wade was fouled from beyond the 3-point line. Wade missed all three free throws.
The game for the Lightning basically ended when Matt Haak outmuscled other LaSalle players for the missed shot on the third free throw. Haak hit two free throws to help account for the final score.
Wagenaar said Haak played a sensational game, scoring 13 points. Haak went 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
"He played outstanding," said Wagenaar. "He went hard to the basket. He is lightning quick."
Wagenaar also dished out praise for Derek DeVries, who had two of his three crucial blocked shots for the Knights that led to points in the fourth quarter.
Wagenaar credits LaSalle with playing hard Friday night.
Friday's win was the eighth consective victory for the Knights.
The Knights (8-4, 11-9) will play Lyle in Tuesday's loser-out District opener.
"The kids are excited," said Wagenaar. "We have to excel with our motivation. We will have to generate our own enthusiasm. I think we will be ready to play real well."
. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 2 3 4 T
LaSalle 9 15 16 11 51
SCHS 21 4 12 23 60
Scoring: SCHS-Andrew Schutt 18, Matt Haak 13, Jordan Haak 11, Chad Den Boer 10, Derek DeVries 8.
LaSalle-Chase Marquis 16.
Rebounds: Derek DeVries 7, Jordan Haak 5.
Assists: Andrew Schutt 8, Chad Den Boer 5.
Steals: Chad Den Boer 3, Andrew Schutt 3, Jordan Haak 3.