SPOKANE - The Almira-Coulee Hartline (ACH) girls basketball team won its 21 game in a row yesterday evening at the State 'B' basketball tournament in Spokane. And the Lady Warriors have no one to really thank but the Sunnyside Christian High School girls basketball team.
The Lady Warriors did everything but score for the Lady Knights as ACH all but begged Sunnyside Christian to stay in the game.
But the championship experience of the Lady Warriors, who finished second at the State 'B' basketball tournament last year, came through as ACH owned the second half in its 69-48 win over Sunnyside Christian.
"They are a good team," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Al Smeenk. "They went to the hoop and we didn't penetrate enough."
The loss to ACH sets up another go-around with LaSalle in an afternoon game in Spokane today. The Lady Lightning were upset Thursday night by Curlew.
The Lady Knights looked as if they were going to hold to form much like they did on the opening day of State against Toutle Lake. But the Lady Knights quickly got away from what brought them to the show and that was teamwork.
Sunnyside Christian outscored the Lady Warriors 22-12 in the first quarter.
Tyssyna Van Wingerden and Emma Hernandez had solid outings in the opening quarter. Van Wingerden had 9 points in the first quarter, as she dominated the paint, charging to the hoop. Hernandez followed up her record setting outing on the opening day of the State tournament with 6 points in the first quarter.
Sunnyside Christian looked good in the first quarter, challenging each shot of the Lady Warriors, collapsing on the inside and rotating on defense. Offensively, the Lady Knights were able to penetrate the paint and run baseline on ACH.
Things didn't start to go sour for the Lady Knights until late in the second quarter. Trailing 33-20 with 1:52 to go in the first half, the Lady Warriors finished with a 9-0 run to trail just 33-29 at the break.
The difference for the Lady Warriors defensively was that they were able to clog the middle of the paint, denying Van Wingerden the good looks she had at the hoop in the first quarter. ACH also started challenging Hernandez, who was having a field day on the base line. Offensively, the Lady Warriors went away from taking so many outside shots and turned post player Molly Gwinn loose inside. Gwinn had 9 points in the second quarter. Teammate Michele Balcom added 8 points to get the Lady Warriors back in the game.
The third quarter would be when the bottom fell out for the Lady Knights.
ACH outscored Sunnyside Christian 26-9 in the third quarter, taking advantage of all the mistakes the Lady Knights were making.
The Lady Knights turned the ball over their first four touches of the second half and got into early foul trouble.
The Lady Warriors finally took the lead for good with 6:10 to go in the third quarter, following a 3-point shot.
ACH capitalized on everything the Lady Knights gave them, taking advantage of traveling and carrying calls.
The Lady Warriors opened the second half with a 9-0 run before Van Wingerden finally muscled their way inside with 5:20 to go in the third.
A turning point in the game came when Amy Mensonides picked up her third foul with 5:09 to go. Kami Clark was the recipient of the third foul by Mensonides, converting a 3-point play to put the Lady Warriors up 41-35.
ACH's championship experience and athleticism would be too much for the Lady Knights in the second half.
ACH didn't shoot particularly well for the game, going 21-for-65 from the field. The Lady Knights were 18-of-49 from the field.
Where the Lady Warriors beat Sunnyside Christian at was the free throw line. The Lady Warriors were 17-of-19 from the free throw line in the second half and went 22-of-25 from the field. The Lady Knights were just 5-for-8 from the free throw line, not making it to the charity stripe once in the second half.
Smeenk said the difference in the game was the third quarter.
"We made way too many turnovers," said Smeenk.
Sunnyside Christian had 21 turnovers for the game, many coming in the second half. ACH had just 13 turnovers, many of which were in the first half.
Smeenk said his players also relied too much on the 3-point shot, going 7-for-26 from long range for the game.
"We didn't take care of the ball," said Smeenk. "We did some silly things and against a good team they are going to make you pay for it."
Smeenk said there will be nothing special to do against LaSalle in this afternoon's loser-out contest, as both teams know each other well.
"This is a game of heart," said Smeenk. "We are going to have to play our top game. It will be whoever wants it more."
1 2 3 4 T
SCHS 22 11 9 6 48
ACH 12 17 26 14 69
Scoring: SCHS-Emma Hernandez 24, Tyssyna Van Wingerden 15, Carly DeGroot 3, Tori Van Wingerden 2, Amy Mensonides 2.
ACH-Michele Balcom 19, Kami Clark 18, Molly Gwinn 15.
Rebounds: Tyssyna Van Wingerden 5.
Assists: Carly DeGroot 5.