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Lady Knights lock up District playoff berth

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Diana Lopez of Mabton (#22) breaks inside of Sunnyside Christian's Tyssyna Van Wingerden, as Lady Viking teammate Patty Mendoza looks on.

MABTON - The Mabton High School girls basketball team put a scare into Sunnyside Christian last night.

The Lady Vikings put together a 12-0 run midway through the second half, drawing to within 33-32 in the process. Down the stretch, though, Sunnyside Christian got a combined 17 points from senior Tyssyna Van Wingerden and junior Emma Hernandez to fend off the upset-minded Lady Vikings. Outscoring Mabton by a 23-10 margin in the final period, the Lady Knights eventually claimed a hard fought 56-40 win.

The Greater Columbia 'B' League victory locked up a District playoff spot for Sunnyside Christian. Mabton, on the other hand, was eliminated from postseason action.

The Lady Vikings (6-6, 13-7) needed a win over Sunnyside Christian (8-3, 12-7) last night, as well as a Sunnyside Christian loss to the state's top ranked LaSalle Lightning this coming Friday, to force a tiebreaker game with the Lady Knights to get into the playoffs. Had that scenario occurred, the tiebreaker game would have been played this coming Saturday.

"I said before the game last night that we didn't want to play this Saturday," said SCHS Coach Al Smeenk.

Thanks to Van Wingerden, Hernandez and Carly DeGroot, Smeenk's Lady Knights escaped that fate.

Van Wingerden, the club's leading scorer this season, poured in 9 of her game high 19 points in the final period. She also crashed the boards for a game high 13 rebounds last night, which propelled the Lady Knights to a 32 to 23 advantage on the glass.

The play of Van Wingerden, said Smeenk, "...is something we often take for granted because she plays so well every night. We rely on her."

Hernandez also turned in a superb effort down the stretch last night. The team's point guard, she pumped in 8 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter, which included knocking down one of her four treys in the game.

"She did a beautiful, beautiful job for us," Smeenk said of Hernandez, adding that her ball-handling skills came to the forefront in the closing stages of the game. Smeenk praised his fiery point guard for not turning the ball over even once after intermission.

"She committed no turnovers in the second half," he said. "Emma handled the ball extremely well, as well as the pressure Mabton was putting on her."

DeGroot, too, came to play last night. The senior added a 17-point effort for the Lady Knights, dropping in half of the eight 3-pointers Sunnyside Christian notched against Mabton last night.

From the outset of last night's game the Mabton girls showed the Lady Knights they weren't about to roll over for the visitors. Mabton forged an 11-10 first quarter lead on Sunnyside Christian, although the Lady Knights fought back with a 15-7 showing in the second stanza to take a 25-18 lead into intermission.

The Lady Vikings, who got double-digit scoring from Michelle Tellez and Michelle Lopez with 16 and 11 points, respectively, pieced together a 12-0 run at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth to get within one of Sunnyside Christian. But in the closing stages of the contest, the Lady Knights pulled away.

"We played a good game, but we just ran out of gas in the end," said Mabton Coach Mike Roettger.

"We had our opportunities," Roettger added, praising his club for fighting to the very end.

Although the Lady Vikings' season has come to a close, Roettger said he told his players after the game the future looks bright.

"You started something. Now, we can build on it," he told his girls.

Sunnyside Christian 10 15 8 23 -56

Mabton 11 7 12 10 -40

FT-Sunnyside Christian 12/19, Mabton 8/16. Rbd.-Sunnyside Christian 32 (Ty. Van Wingerden 13, Mensonides 10), Mabton 23 (Tellez 8). TO-Sunnyside Christian 26, Mabton 13.

Sunnyside Christian-Ja. Roberts 2, To. Van Wingerden 0, DeGroot 17, Rice 0, Ty. Van Wingerden 19, Jo. Roberts 0, Hernandez 18, Mensonides 0.

Mabton-A. Mendoza 2, P. Mendoza 4, Lopez 11, Sanchez 6, Tellez 16, Montelongo 1.

Michael Kantman/Daily Sun News

Sunnyside Christian's Jacqui Roberts lobs a pass over the head of two Mabton defenders last night, one of which is Alida Mendoza (#10).

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