WEST RICHLAND - Feeding off the inside presence of 6'6" Jake Thomas-and getting inspired play from the likes of Pete Marquez, Jessie Ramirez and Kyle Van de Graaf-the Sunnyside Grizzlies stole a conference win away from the Hanford Falcons on their West Richland home court last night.
Thomas poured in 20 of his game high 28 points in the second half to lead Sunnyside to a come-from-behind 59-56 victory. The Grizzly boys basketball team trailed Hanford by a 30-26 margin at intermission.
"It wasn't necessarily anything we did differently in the second half," said Sunnyside Coach Steve Urrutia. "I think it was more of a case of the kids starting to listen a little bit...and executing a lot better."
Thomas was the catalyst for Sunnyside's second half surge, as the Grizzlies' big man took control of the paint. He ended up knocking down 12-of-19 shots from the field, with most of his attempts coming from inside the lane.
"Jake wasn't shooting so much from outside last night," said Urrutia. "He found success inside and stayed with it."
The Sunnyside coach said much of Thomas' success can be attributed to the rest of the team staying patient on offense, looking to work the ball inside to their 6'6" post.
"The kids were definitely more patient last night," Urrutia said. "They weren't in such a hurry to chuck the ball up there.
"The more patient we were, the more efficient we were," he said.
Thomas played big last night on the boards, as well, scraping down a team high eight rebounds.
Lest one thinks it was a one-man show for Sunnyside last night, think again. The Grizzlies also received superb play from Marquez, Ramirez and Van de Graaf.
Marquez, a 5'10" junior, got his first ever start on varsity last night, and he came up big. The fiery sparkplug's biggest contribution of the night might have been limiting Hanford's point guard, Nick Martin, to just five points.
"It's a given now that Pete will be drawing the toughest defensive assignment," said Urrutia. "Pete might not have big numbers next to his name after the game, but the fire and intensity he brings to the varsity, it's invaluable."
The numbers Marquez did have against the Falcons weren't all that shabby, though. He only popped in 2 points, but he came away with five rebounds, dished off three assists and collected two steals.
Ramirez, Sunnyside's 5'11" senior point guard, weighed heavily in the Grizzlies' game plan last night, too. In knocking down 3-of-4 shots from treyland, Ramirez kept the Falcons honest, not allowing them to sag down low in the post on Thomas. Ramirez finished the night with a team second best 14-point scoring effort.
Van de Graaf, a 6'2" senior, added a 6-point performance for the Grizzlies, although his efforts went well beyond that.
"Kyle came off the bench and played very well for us," said Urrutia. "Reid (Schilperoort) got into foul trouble, but Kyle went in and got the job done. We left him in longer that we had planned because he was playing so well."
Van de Graaf, besides scoring 6 points, hauled down six rebounds for the Grizzlies in his limited time on the floor.
Sunnyside took control of the game by outscoring the Falcons 18-9 in the third quarter. Thomas dumped in 12 of the Grizzlies' 15 points in the final period to keep Hanford at bay.
Perhaps the only glaring statistic that went Hanford's way was turnovers. Sunnyside coughed the ball up 20 times, compared to just six Falcon miscues.
"We did end up with 11 steals, though," said Urrutia, "And a lot of those steals came right after we turned the ball over, so we kept the damage to a minimum."
Sunnyside, which improved to 2-4 in Mid-Valley League play while Hanford slipped to 2-3, outshot the Falcons from the field, connecting on 51 percent of its shots. Hanford made 41 percent of its field goal attempts. The Grizzlies also shot better from behind the 3-point arc, making 4-of-9 while the Falcons were 4-of-14.
Hanford was led in scoring by Admir Beribak and Adam Dabney with 22 and 15 points, respectively. Beribak also pulled down a game high nine rebounds.
In looking ahead, the Sunnyside High School boys cage team hosts two games this coming weekend-Friday against Prosser and Saturday against Grandview.
. Bob Story,can be contacted at
(509) 837-4500, or e-mail him
Sunnyside 15 11 18 15 -59
Hanford 9 21 9 17 -56
Sunnyside-Ramirez 14, Cantu 0, Zamarron 7, Heckert 0, Van de Graaf 6, Schilperoort 2, Thomas 28, Marquez 2.