SPOKANE - Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar wanted his shot at top ranked Waterville entering the State 'B' tournament in Spokane. Well, the Knights earned their coach his shot yesterday.
The Knights played Waterville in an 11 a.m. loser-out game this morning (Friday) for the right to play in Saturday's trophy game for fifth and eighth place against the winner of the Mabton vs. Riverside Christian encounter.
After losing a heartbreaking opening game at the State tournament to Wilbur-Creston Wednesday afternoon, the Knights ended up with a reprieve Thursday from an early exit thanks in large part to the efforts of Chad Den Boer and Andrew Schutt.
The two Knight underclassmen spearheaded Thursday morning's 81-64 win over Chief Leschi in a loser-out game.
"Anytime you come up here and win it is a good win," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar.
The only thing the Knight duo ended up missing Thursday morning was a pair of free throws. Schutt went 5-for-5 from the field, including two 3-pointers. He was also 2-for-2 from the free throw line. But it was Den Boer who should receive the pat on the back for Thursday's heroics. Den Boer was 9-of-9 from the field, including going 5-for-5 from 3-point land. Den Boer had a crucial run in the second quarter where he sank four 3-pointers to help propel the Knights to an insurmountable lead.
Wagenaar said the zone defense the Warrriors played really hurt them, as it allowed Sunnyside Christian, which shoots the 3-ball well, to set up for the outside shot.
"You can't let our kids spot up and shoot," said Wagenaar.
Derek DeVries, who had a red hot first half in Wednesday's tournament opener, set the tempo for Sunnyside Christian early in the game. DeVries powered inside for two quick baskets to give the Knights a 4-2 lead. Jordan Haak, though, was a powerful presence on the floor for the Knights, scoring four of his 10 first half points in the opening quarter. With a 10-8 lead and 2:05 to go in the first quarter, Den Boer drained the first of his 3-pointers to put the Knights up for what would prove to be for good. Den Boer and Josh Buescher scored the final two points of the opening period to give the Knights a 17-10 lead.
The Knights showed some outstanding ball movement, which allowed Sunnyside Christian to penetrate at will in the opening period. Wagenaar said he felt the ball movement by his team was key in spreading the floor for the Knights.
"We had lots of penetration," said Wagenaar. "We also had our inside-outside game working."
Schutt hit the first of his 3-pointers in the second quarter with 5:38 to go to give Sunnyside Christian a 22-15 lead. After a 3-pointer from Chief Leschi's Curtis Wallace cut the Knights' lead to 26-20, Den Boer went to work for the hometown team. With 3:50 left in the half, Den Boer hit the first of his four 3-pointers in the period. Den Boer had three consecutive 3-pointers to give the Knights a 35-20 lead. Schutt added his last 3-pointer with 2:14 left. Chief Leschi was able to stop the bleeding, finally scoring at the 1:53 mark to pull within 16 points at 38-22. Den Boer had his final 3-pointer of the second quarter with 1:36 on the clock to give the Knights a 41-22 lead. Van de Graaf and Haak finished out the period with buckets for Sunnyside Christian to give the Knights a 45-26 lead.
The third quarter wasn't a stellar period for the Knights, as they nearly blew a 19-point lead. For most of the first half, the Knights did a solid job of keeping Chief Leschi on the perimeter. But the Warriors were able to pound the ball inside several times in the third quarter, as they outscored Sunnyside Christian 20-10. Chief Leschi cut the Knights' lead to 55-46 going into the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, the Knights had a two-and-a-half minute period where they couldn't score.
Wagenaar said he felt the Knights were fatigued at that point in the game. Wagenaar added he wanted to let his team play through the run Chief Leschi was making, instead of calling a timeout.
"We weren't moving our feet well at all," said Wagenaar. "But I didn't want to call a timeout. I wanted to see how they played through it."
Wagenaar said he felt Chief Leschi had problems matching up with the zone defense of the Knights.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors opted to foul Sunnyside Christian, which is known for its solid free throw shooting. In the fourth period, the Knights scored 15 of their 26 points from the free throw line. Den Boer hit 5 points from the charity stripe and Haak had 4.
Free throw shooting was the story for the Knights in the second half. After going 0-for-2 from the line in the first half, the Knights hit 16-of-24 free throws, compared to just 3-for-6 for Chief Leschi for the game.
The Warriors were 28-for-66 from the field while the Knights were a more composed 29-for-46.
1 2 3 4 T
SCHS 17 28 10 26 81
Chief Leschi 10 16 20 18 64
Scoring: SCHS-Chad Den Boer 29, Jordan Haak 18, Andrew Schutt 14, Derek DeVries 8, Derek Van de Graaf 8, Josh Buescher 2, Ryan Tade 1, Sean Tudor 1.
Chief Leschi-Marty Wallace 25, Sean Wallace 20.
Rebounds: Jordan Haak 5, Derek DeVries 5.
Assists: Chad Den Boer 5, Derek DeVries 4, Andrew Schutt 4, Jordan Haak 3.