Snapping a six-game losing streak this past Saturday, the Sunnyside High School boys basketball team evened its Mid-Valley League record at 1-1 by slipping past Ellensburg, 67-65.
"We desperately needed that win," said relieved first year Coach Steve Urrutia.
The victory over the Bulldogs came in just the second conference game of the season for Sunnyside, after the Grizzlies went 1-5 in non-league competition to open the year.
Urrutia said his entire squad had a hand in Saturday's win, describing the effort against the Bulldogs as "...an overall, good team effort."
Two of his Grizzlies, though, stood out from the pack at the end of Saturday's fray.
Most notable, perhaps, was senior point guard Jessie Ramirez, who sank the winning basket in the closing seconds. Teammate Jake Thomas also had a big hand, quite literally in fact, when he swatted away a potentially game tying shot just as time expired.
The Grizzlies were leading Ellensburg by five late in the game and attempted to pull even further ahead when they put up an unsuccessful shot with 1:13 remaining in the contest. The Bulldogs rebounded the miss and fed the ball to Riley Sieback, who nailed a long range 3-pointer to draw Ellensburg to within 67-65. Sunnyside turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, and the Bulldogs took advantage of the miscue when Jason Brozovich canned a 2-point bucket to square the game at 65-all.
With the contest knotted up even with 20 seconds remaining, Urrutia said he elected for his troops to play for the last shot. Ramirez eventually drove the lane, flicking a shot towards the hoop, but the ball rolled off the rim. In a blink of the eye, Ramirez grabbed the miss and popped the ball back through the hoop to give Sunnyside a 67-65 lead.
Ellensburg had four seconds remaining to work the ball upcourt for a desperation attempt, but the potentially game tying shot the Bulldogs got off was swatted out of the air by Thomas-his second but probably his biggest block of the game.
Besides the two blocks he had Saturday night, the 6'6" Thomas poured in a game high 18 points and led the Grizzlies on the boards with a team high six rebounds.
Ramirez, too, put up some imposing numbers against the Bulldogs. He scorched the net for 17 points, 11 of them coming in the second half when the Grizzlies outscored Ellensburg by a 40-36 margin to take control of the game. Ramirez also led Sunnyside with four assists and came away with a game high five steals.
Another Grizzly who excelled Saturday was junior Cody Heckert, who knocked down 10 of his 12 points after intermission.
"Cody came off the bench and played super for us," said Urrutia.
The Sunnyside coach also had praise for exchange student Branimir Janjevic, a 6'0" senior. Janjevic normally doesn't see a lot of time on the floor, but he played several minutes Saturday filling in for players who were in foul trouble.
"He gave us some good minutes out there," Urrutia said.
The Sunnyside cage team will make up its home contest from last week with Selah, which was delayed because of the poor weather, this Tuesday night on the Grizzlies' floor. The game at Hanford that was cancelled last week will be made up on the Falcons' home floor on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
. Bob Story,can be contacted at
(509) 837-4500, or e-mail him
Ellensburg 14 15 20 16 -65
Sunnyside 14 13 21 19 -67
2-pt. FG-Ellensburg 15/31, Sunnyside 18/35. 3-pt. FG-Ellensburg 5/11, Sunnyside 3/12 (Zamarron 2, Heckert 1). FT-Ellensburg 10/18, Sunnyside 16/29. Rbd.-Ellensburg 44 (Sieback 10), Sunnyside 31 (Thomas 6).
Ellensburg-Robinson 14, Griffith 17, Aaron 0, Fair 4, Brozovich 15, Gray 9, Siebach 16, Fork 0, Gordon 0.
Sunnyside-Sanchez 0, Ramirez 17, Cantu 6, Simmons 0, Zamarron 6, Heckert 12, Van de Graaf 6, Schilperoort 2, Thomas 18, Janjevic 0.