ELLENSBURG - The Sunnyside Christian High School boys basketball team captured its second Regional title this past Saturday in four years with a hard-fought 47-43 win over Pateros.
The win gave the Knights a top seed into State and an opening round game against Tacoma Baptist this Wednesday night at 9 p.m. at the Spokane Arena.
The Regional title victory on Saturday marked the 18th consecutive game Sunnyside Christian has won since a loss to Riverside Christian in the fifth game of the regular season.
The Knights, though, will have to do a better job at taking advantage of what is given to them if they want to do well at the State tournament this coming week.
Sunnyside Christian nearly handed over the Regional title to Pateros on Saturday, with most of the mistakes coming at the free throw line. The Knights shot a dismal 5-for-13 from the free throw line.
"Pateros is a good team," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar. "They came back in the fourth quarter. We missed some free throws which we should have made."
Saturday's title bout started out very slowly with the Knights taking the opening quarter 6-4.
"(The first quarter was) very patient for Pateros and pretty patient for us," said Wagenaar."
Wagenaar said neither team wanted to make that crucial mistake that would have switched momentum in the game.
The Knights also missed a couple of 3-pointers that kept Sunnyside Christian from gaining any momentum. Wagenaar said Pateros ran a very tight 2-3 zone defense, which made it hard to shoot the three early on against the tall, lanky Pateros squad.
The Knights started to get some looks at 3-point shots in the second quarter, which completely switched the direction of the game. Chad Den Boer and Matt Haak hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second quarter, as the Knights went on to outscore Pateros 21-12 in the quarter.
"We got the pace of the game up," said Wagenaar.
Haak was big in the second quarter for the Knights, scoring nine points.
"He really created energy for us in that second quarter," said Wagenaar.
By nailing the 3-point shot, Wagenaar said it actually helped his team's defense out, as the Knights were able to get back in transition easier.
The game started to take a turn for the Knights late in the third quarter. Sunnyside Christian turned over the ball late in the period, resulting in a 3-point play for Pateros.
"We made a terrible pass to give (them) the last shot of the quarter," said Wagenaar.
The reestablished momentum in the fourth quarter, scoring the first four points of the period to go up by nine.
Pateros, though, wouldn't go away. With about three minutes left in the game, Sunnyside Christian missed two consecutive 1-and-1 opportunities at the free throw line. Trailing by only four points, Pateros' Dustin Zahn drained an NBA 3-pointer to pull his team within one point, 44-43.
Den Boer finished the game off, hitting a pair of free throws late in the game. With nine seconds left, Den Boer hit one of free throws to put the game away.
Sunnyside Christian's Andrew Schutt played solid defense in the final seconds of the game, as he had a hand in the face of the Pateros player taking a 3-point shot to tie the game. Pateros missed the shot.
Wagenaar said his team shot the ball well until the fourth quarter. His team missed three jumpers in the lane that Wagenaar felt would have changed momentum if they had went in. The Knights coach added that his team needs to do a better job of finishing things off, citing as an example his team's poor performance at the free throw line.
"It is going to bite us somewhere," said Wagenaar, citing how missing that many free throws at the State tournament will cost teams the game.
Wagenaar said his team is excited for the State tournament. The Knights open up the State tournament against Tacoma Baptist in the late game. The Knights at 22-1 have one of three best records at the State tournament. If the Knights win Wednesday, they will play the winner of the Republic/DeSales game on Thursday night at 9 p.m. Republic is the defending State 'B' basketball champions.
1 2 3 4 T
Pateros 4 12 17 10 43
SCHS 6 21 11 9 47
Scoring: SCHS-Chad Den Boer 12, Jordan Haak 12, Derek Van de Graaf 9, Matt Haak 9, Andrew Schutt 5.
Pateros-Dustin Zahn 13.
Rebounds-Jordan Haak 7, Derek Van de Graaf 5, Matt Haak 4, Andrew Schutt 3.
Assists: Andrew Schutt 3, Derek Van de Graaf 3, Jordan Haak 2.
Steals: Matt Haak 2.