GRANDVIEW - "For three quarters we took a page out of Grandview's playbook and in the fourth quarter they ripped it out of our hands," Sunnyside boys basketball coach Steve Urrutia said of his team's closer-than-it-looks 85-64 loss at Grandview Friday.
Indeed, for three quarters the teams mirrored each other, morphing into a sort of Grandside or Sunnyview, if you will.
The contest was non-league in name only as the rivals went at each other with hands-in-the-face pressure defense.
Grandview took the first swing, going up 11-3 early in the first quarter. Sunnyside answered as its defense sparked a 10-2 run to knot the game at 13-13 heading into the second quarter.
The Grizzlies played their best quarter of the game, perhaps of the season so far, in the second stanza.
"Steve should be proud of the way his guys played," Greyhound Coach Scott Parrish said of Sunnyside, which substituted liberally.
The platoon system worked, as the Grizzlies pulled ahead 29-24 midway through the second quarter.
Grandview's James Vela, on the way to an 18-point, 17-rebound night, went coast-to-coast for a layup to help spark the Greyhounds and knot the contest at 29-all.
But back came the relentless Grizzlies on an 8-3 tear to go up 37-32 at the half. The run was sparked by a pair of Brandon Coleman free throws and a steal and a bucket by James Baysinger.
Sunnyside's successful, take-no-prisoners defense came at a cost, though, as the Grizzlies committed eight fouls in the first quarter alone and, for the game, sent Grandview to the free throw line 32 times.
Speaking of free throws, Vela opened the third quarter with a bucket off an assist from Anthony Andrews. Vela was fouled on the shot and hit the charity toss to pull Grandview back to within two at 37-35.
Sunnyside wasn't shaken, storming to a nine-point lead on an 11-4 run.
Coleman stuck a three-pointer to get the Grizzly party started and Ryan Engel stole the ball in Grandview's backcourt and sailed coast-to-coast for an easy bucket.
The Grizzlies were at the peak of their powers at the 5:01 mark of the third quarter.
They capped the 11-4 run with a quick inbounds pass and Engel bucket while Grandview's Brandon Artz was waiting to come out of the game following his fourth foul.
Trailing 48-39 in front of a stunned home crowd, the moment proved pivotal as the foul call on Artz was hotly debated by the Grandview bench.
That and the Grizzlies' sneak-in basket seemed to fire up the hosts, as Grandview went on a 19-9 tear to close out the third stanza and regain the lead at 58-57 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Lopez knocked down a trey and Andrews followed with steal and a bucket to start the Grandview surge.
And G-town was just getting warmed up.
As is so often the case, defense proved the difference in the fourth quarter, as Grandview switched to a zone to spread out the floor.
"We knew they shoot a lot of three's so we just wanted to get them farther from the basket and position ourselves for long rebounds," said Parrish.
The strategy worked, forcing Sunnyside to fire away from well beyond the arc in a virtual four-point range.
The Grizzlies' woes were compounded by the fact the shots stopped falling.
One long rebound and easy layup after another for the hosts. Altogether, Grandview outscored Sunnyside 27-7 in the fourth quarter.
"We're still young and the guys need to learn how to respond when we're defended like that," said Urrutia.
For the game, the 'Hounds collected a staggering 63 rebounds. That stands in correlation to the fact Sunnyside attempted a Sonic-like 55 three-point attempts, but only hit 14 of them.
Andrews and Vela shared scoring honors with 18 points each. Nate Zavala added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the balanced Greyhound attack. Lopez and Tim Schrank contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Coleman and Baysinger led Sunnyside with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Grandview (2-0) is scheduled to play at Prosser tonight (Monday) while Sunnyside (1-3) hosts Ki-Be Tuesday night.