WALLA WALLA - Two state ranked basketball teams battling for bragging rights was the scenario in last night's match-up, pitting Sunnyside Christian and DeSales against one another.
DeSales went into the game ranked third in the Associated Press polls, carrying a 13-0 record. The Knights were ranked sixth in the AP polls with a 13-1 overall mark.
But it would be the Knights that came out on top this night, sending the Irish to its first defeat of the season with a 63-54 victory.
"They are athletic and strong," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar of DeSales. "I can see where they give tons of teams fits."
Wagenaar said DeSales plays good man and zone defenses. Wagenaar said because of the athleticism of the Irish players it makes it difficult to penetrate their zone defense.
In last night's upset of the Irish, the Knights basically played their game, said Wagenaar.
"We just had to play sharp," said Wagenaar.
Wagenaar said his players were able to get the Irish to extend its zone and then attack the basket.
The Irish took an early 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. The strong play of Matt Haak put the Knights right back into the game. Haak scored 7 of his 9 points in the second quarter, as Sunnyside Christian forged a 26-22 halftime lead.
The Knights had an even bigger second half.
Sunnyside Christian outscored DeSales 17 to 11 in the third quarter. During the third quarter, Andrew Schutt, who had a nice all-around game, recorded four of his five steals.
In the third quarter, the Knights had some nice defensive stops against DeSales and were able to convert on the other end.
Sunnyside Christian took a commanding 53-39 lead with about three minutes to go in the fourth quarter to put the game away. The Irish tried to make a late push, said Wagenaar, but it wasn't enough.
Schutt had a sensational evening for Sunnyside Christian, scoring a team-high 18 points. He also had five rebounds, three assists and five steals. Wagenaar said Schutt was able to penetrate to the basket against DeSales.
"It was a good game for the boys. It was excellent competition," said Wagenaar. "It was a tough place to play."
The weekend doesn't get any easier for the Knights.
Sunnyside Christian (7-1, 14-1) has a real opportunity to make it a two-team race for the Greater Columbia 'B' League northern division title with a win over Riverside Christian at home Friday. A win over the Crusaders, who beat the Knights earlier in the season, would basically dwindle the battle down for the league title to Mabton and Sunnyside Christian, with the Vikings still having to travel to Yakima to play the Crusaders Feb. 5. Following this coming weekend's games, the Knights and the Vikings each will only have three league games left. Sunnyside Christian travels to Mabton Tuesday, Feb. 8. The Knights also host Trout Lake this coming Saturday at 6 p.m.
"We better be ready to go (Friday) or we are going to be in trouble," said Wagenaar. "We need to bring a lot more energy. Riverside out-hustled us the last game."
1 2 3 4 T
SCHS 11 15 17 20 63
DeSales 12 10 11 21 54
Scoring: SCHS-Andrew Schutt 18, Jordan Haak 15, Chad Den Boer 13, Matt Haak 9, Derek Van de Graaf 6, Sean Tudor 2.
DeSales-Casey Worth 21 (13 in the fourth quarter), Mike Richard 14.
Rebounds: Derek Van de Graaf 6, Sean Tudor 5, Andrew Schutt 5, Jordan Haak 5.
Assists: Jordan Haak 4, Andrew Schutt 3, Sean Tudor 3.
Steals: Andrew Schutt 5.