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Lady Grizzlies advance to postseason with momentum

Watch out for the Lady Grizzlies.

The Sunnyside High School girls basketball team put together its best back-to-back efforts of the season just in time for the postseason.

Sunnyside entered this past weekend needing just one win to earn the No. 6 seed into Tuesday's Mid-Valley League District tournament opener. The Lady Grizzlies did one better, grabbing two victories, one of which was an upset of sorts.

Friday night, the Lady Grizzlies entered Wapato in what was a must-win game for Sunnyside in order to avoid any possibility of a one-game playoff for the final seed into Districts.

The Lady Grizzlies used dominating first and fourth quarters to put the Lady Wolfpack away, 49-40.

After securing a postseason berth with Friday's win, one might have thought the Lady Grizzlies would have been complacent come Saturday's game against Prosser. But that wasn't the case.

Capping off a well played game, Victoria Sarmiento scored her only two points of the night for the Lady Grizzlies when she drained two free throws to give Sunnyside a 50-48 upset victory of Prosser.

"We came to play Saturday night," said Sunnyside Coach Leo Gomez. "That win gave us a lot of confidence."

Sunnyside finished its Mid-Valley League campaign 5-9 (8-12 overall). The Lady Grizzlies travel to Grandview this Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. loser-out, District opening game against the Lady Greyhounds.

Gomez said his Lady Grizzlies, who have played consistently better on the road this season, are going to walk into Grandview and play their best and will be satisfied with whatever the outcome might be.

A huge night from Andrea Phillips helped spark the Lady Grizzlies Friday night against Wapato. Phillips scored 11 of her game-high 22 points in Sunnyside's 19-point first quarter. She also had six rebounds and six assists in the game.

"Andrea played real well for us," said Gomez. "She just kept finding the open spots."

Gomez said the key for his team in the opening quarter was the Lady Grizzlies came out ready to play, knowing they didn't want to have a one-game playoff against Wapato if they lost.

Wapato powered back in the second quarter, outscoring Sunnyside 16-7 for a 27-26 halftime lead.

Gomez said Wapato was able to take advantage of Hilary Van de Graaf being in foul trouble. Gomez said his lone senior picked up three early fouls and had to go to the bench.

"They also hit their shots an we didn't," said Gomez.

It turned out to be a defensive battle in the third quarter, as the Lady Grizzlies outscored Wapato 9-8 to tie the game at 35-all.

The Lady Grizzlies ran past Wapato in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lady Wolfpack 13-5 in the period for the win.

Gomez said Sunnyside was able to push the ball up the floor effectively against Wapato. The Lady Wolfpack also ran an effective 2-1-2 zone defense.

Phillips was instrumental in the fourth quarter, as well, for the Lady Grizzlies, scoring 6 points. Van de Graaf added 5 points in the final period.

The first time Prosser and Sunnyside met this season, the Lady Mustangs administered a 56-42 shellacking. Sunnyside was without the services of Phillips in the first game.

There would be no lopsided victory by Prosser, as Saturday night belonged to Van de Graaf. She dropped in a game-high 17 points. She also had nine rebounds in helping propel the Lady Grizzlies to the victory.

Sunnyside couldn't take advantage of a struggling Prosser squad in the first half. The Lady Grizzlies couldn't find the bucket when Prosser had some key players on the bench in foul trouble, said Gomez.

Sunnyside led 22-21 at the break as Kelsey Crawford's 6 points in the second quarter helped keep the Lady Mustangs close.

Crawford was also instrumental in the Lady Mustangs' 20-14 third quarter, scoring another 6 points.

At the end of the third quarter, the Lady Mustangs led 41-36, but Sunnyside climbed back in the game with a 14-7 fourth quarter.

Sarmiento scored the game-winning free throws when she was fouled by a Prosser player, who fell on top of her as she tried to make a shot. Sarmiento sank both free throws for the win.

"We just really played a good game that night," said Gomez.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at mkantman@eaglenewspapers.com

1 2 3 4 T

Sunnyside 19 7 9 13 49

Wapato 11 16 8 5 40

Scoring: Sunnyside-Andrea Phillips 22, Hilary Van de Graaf 9, Erica Mendez 7, Victoria Sarmiento 5, Bobi Haringa 3, Melissa Caballero 2, Monique Montelongo 1.

Wapato-Stephanie Simicon 12.

Rebounds: Hilary Van de Graaf 8, Erica Mendez 8, Andrea Phillips 6, Bobi Haringa 6.

Assists: Andrea Phillips 6.

1 2 3 4 T

Sunnyside 9 13 14 14 50

Prosser 12 9 20 7 48

Scoring: Sunnyside-Hilary Van de Graaf 17, Andrea Phillips 11, Erica Mendez 9, Monique Montelongo 4, Bobi Haringa 4, Victoria Sarmiento 2, Melissa Caballero 2, Lanna Pangle 1.

Prosser-Kelsey Crawford 16.

Rebounds: Hilary Van de Graaf 9, Erica Mendez 8, Andrea Phillips 7, Bobi Haringa 6.

Assists: Andrea Phillips 3.

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