ELLENSBURG - The Sunnyside Christian High School girls basketball team has a date with the No. 2 ranked Class 'B' team in the state.
In a Regional tourney loser-out, winner advances game played in Ellensburg this past Saturday, the Lady Knights knocked off the highly regarded Waterville Shockers, 58-47. The reward for the SCHS girls is a first round pairing at this year's Class 'B' State Tournament against second ranked Almira-Coulee-Hartline.
The 'B' State tourney will again be staged in Spokane. The Lady Knights (17-7) will take to the floor Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. against a club that has just one loss on its record. The lone defeat suffered by Almira-Coulee-Hartline (23-1) this season was to No. 1 ranked Kittitas.
That his Lady Knights have to face such a tough foe in the opening round at State doesn't really concern SCHS Coach Al Smeenk.
"This is frosting on the cake," said Smeenk, simply pleased with the fact that his girls team has earned a State tourney berth. The Lady Knights haven't played at State since 2001.
"This is a group I really feel over-achieved this season," Smeenk said.
"The seniors on this year's team, they were freshmen the last time we went to State," said Smeenk. "I'm very pleased for them, as well as the other girls on the team who will get to experience State for the first time."
In earning one of four Regional berths to State, the Lady Knights had their hands full this past Saturday. Waterville's go-to player was 6'2" senior Kathy Ludeman.
"Waterville really went to her throughout the game," Smeenk said. "She has nice, soft hands and was very good at kissing the ball off the glass."
Ludeman finished with a game high 18 points.
Even though Sunnyside Christian wasn't able to shut Ludeman down, the Lady Knights did take advantage of the 6'2" post player.
"Their big girl had difficulty running the floor," said Smeenk, explaining that the game plan was for the Lady Knights to use their quickness and beat her back down the floor before she could set up to defend the middle of the paint.
"It worked," Smeenk said while praising the efforts of his team. "We beat her down court consistently. The last thing we wanted to do was get into a half court game with them."
Sunnyside Christian also created numerous scoring opportunities with its zone press defense. In the second quarter alone, the Lady Knights forced Waterville into coughing up the ball 12 times. That led to a 16-6 second period scoring advantage for Sunnyside Christian, which erased the 11-9 lead the Shockers built in the opening quarter.
Sunnyside Christian put together a 19-2 spurt against the Shockers at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second period. During that stretch, the Lady Knights enjoyed a 14-0 run.
Three SCHS players especially stood out in Saturday's game.
Junior Tyssyna Van Wingerden, enroute to popping in 16 points for the winners, kept the Lady Knights close to Waterville in the opening stages of the game. Van Wingerden scored all nine of Sunnyside Christian's first period points. The 5'8" Van Wingerden, the tallest member of this year's SCHS girls team, also battled the 6'2" Ludeman inside the paint and came away with a team high 13 rebounds. Surprisingly, the Lady Knights claimed a 36 to 29 rebounding advantage over the Shockers.
Sophomore Emma Hernandez also turned in a whale of an effort against Waterville. The diminutive 5'0" guard enjoyed a postseason breakout type performance, throwing in 14 points in the Lady Knights' 58-47 win. Hernandez, who transferred to Sunnyside Christian from the Sunnyside public schools as a freshman, led the second quarter comeback by Sunnyside Christian, canning 8 of her 14 points in that period. She also knocked down 6 points in the third quarter, when the Lady Knights basically salted the game away by outscoring the Shockers 20-13.
Senior Hilary Hughes, too, came through in a big way for the Lady Knights on Saturday. The 5'5" point guard shared team high scoring honors with Van Wingerden with an identical 16-point effort. Hughes, who sank two of the Lady Knights' five 3-pointers in the game, especially heated up in the third quarter, plopping in 7 points.
Senior Tami Lambrecht also turned in a strong effort Saturday, nailing a long range 3-pointer enroute to scoring 9 points. Seven of her nine points came in the final period to help keep Waterville at bay.
Waterville 11 6 13 17 -47
Sunnyside Christian 9 16 20 13 -58
Waterville-Velasquez 4, Tabler 6, Jackson 3, Willmer 10, Ludeman 18, Brown 2, Daling 4
Sunnyside Christian-Lambrecht 9, Hughes 16, DeGroot 0, Ty. Van Wingerden 16, Roberts 0, Hernandez 14, To. Van Wingerden 0, Mensonides 3