The road finally proved to be a good place for the Sunnyside Christian High School boys basketball team. The Knights put themselves back into postseason contention with two victories this past weekend.
While basketball is a team sport, a lot of the weekend's success for Sunnyside Christian can be attributed to the outstanding play of Chad Den Boer.
Den Boer did a number on Klickitat's J.J. Keys this past Friday night, as the Knights blasted the Vandals 82-29. On Saturday night, Den Boer poured in a career-high 32 points, as Sunnyside Christian won a tough road game at Lyle, 55-45.
With the weekend victories, the Knights (3-4, 6-9) gained a game on LaSalle for the third spot in the Greater Columbia 'B' League's Northern Division and actually pulled within two games of Mabton (6-2, 8-6) for the second seed in league. The Vikings lost a double overtime heartbreaker to Trout Lake at home Friday night.
"It is pretty much in our hands at this point," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar. "We have to take care of business now. If the kids want it bad enough, they better go get it."
And the Knights will be able to take care of business in the confines of their homes, as Sunnyside Christian finishes up the season at home. The only road game the Knights have left is this Tuesday night in Toppenish at Yakama Tribal. The game was postponed from Jan. 9 because of weather.
All of the Knights were able to score in Friday night's lopsided victory over Klickitat. Sunnyside Christian was led by Den Boer, who had all 15 of his points in the first half, and Derek DeVries, who added 12 points in the victory. Towards the end of the third quarter, Wagenaar went to his bench, as the Knights were ahead 61-14 heading into the final period of play.
Sunnyside Christian really only had one player to worry about on the Klickitat squad, that being J.J. Keys. Wagenaar said Den Boer really controlled Keys, who didn't find success until the second half, when Den Boer went to the bench. Keys scored 8 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter.
"Chad did a great job on him," said Wagenaar.
While the Knights weren't as successful with man-to-man defense last Tuesday night against DeSales, Wagenaar decided to stick with the game plan again on Friday night. With the man defense the Knights implemented Friday night, Sunnyside Christian was able to get a lot of open looks and many transition buckets. In the first quarter, Den Boer and Schutt nailed 3-pointers that helped the Knights explode for 25 points in the quarter. Schutt had another 3-pointer early in the second period to help pace the Knights in the first half.
Wagenaar said with his players being able to hit from the perimeter, the Knights were able to open up a tight zone defense the Vandals were running.
Saturday night, the Knights had to travel to the always hostile confines of Lyle High School. Sunnyside Christian sneaked out with a 55-45 victory behind Den Boer's 32 points.
Wagenaar said the Knights implemented a new offense that called for some more motion plays. The new offensive scheme allowed Den Boer to get inside the post more. The new plan worked as Den Boer scored 12 of his points at the free throw line. The Knight sophomore also had four 3-pointers in the game.
One of Den Boer's 3-pointers was key midway through the third quarter when the Cougars were holding a 32-31 lead. After Den Boer's 3-pointers, the Knights pulled ahead for good. The closest Lyle got in the game was 44-40 with 3:30 to go. The Knights finished out the game with one bucket and eight free throws.
Wagenaar credited the strong play of Lyle's Kalvin Kernan and Justin Carlson with keeping the Cougars in the game. Kernan and Carlson led Lyle with 20 and 18 points, respectively.
"Those two guys are tough," said Wagenaar. "They hit some tough shots."
Wagenaar feels Saturday's win was big, as the Knights proved they could win on the road in chaotic surroundings.
"We played some pretty good defense," added the Knights coach. "This is a big win for us. We actually responded (towards the end of the game) this time. We didn't choke."
1 2 3 4 T
SCHS 25 13 23 21 82
Klickitat 6 3 5 15 29
Scoring: SCHS - Chad Den Boer 15, Derek DeVries 12, Matt Haak 9, Andrew Schutt 9, Lucas Kilian 7, Sean Tudor 6, Jordan Haak 6, Keith Bos 5, Derek Van de Graaf 5, Josh Buescher 4, Ryan Tade 4.
Klickitat - J.J. Keys 19.
Rebounds: Derek DeVries 7, Josh Buescher 6, Sean Tudor 6, Chad Den Boer 4.
Assists: Derek DeVries 5, Chad Den Boer 3.
The Knights had 11 steals in the game, compared to two by Klickitat.
1 2 3 4 T
SCHS 15 10 15 15 55
Lyle 11 13 12 9 45
Scoring: SCHS - Chad Den Boer 32, Jordan Haak 10, Derek DeVries 10, Josh Buescher 2, Andrew Schutt 1.
Lyle - Kalvin Kernan 20, Justin Carlson 18.
Rebounds: Andrew Schutt 5, Jordan Haak 5, Chad Den Boer 4.
Assists: Andrew Schutt 4, Chad Den Boer 4.
Steals: Chad Den Boer 3, Jordan Haak 3.
Sunnyside Christian had only seven turnovers in the game. Lyle turned the ball over 14 times.