KITTITAS - The Kittitas Coyotes live and die by the play of their three guards. Last night against the Sunnyside Christian Knights, Kittitas perished to the tune of a 62-49 score.
"Their three guards run everything," said SCHS Coach Dean Wagenaar, going on to explain that his club's match-up zone defense was effective in containing the trio.
Especially on their game on the defensive side of the ball for Sunnyside Christian were the Brouwer brothers-the senior Lucas and the junior Jesse. The pair, said Wagenaar, were instrumental in taking away the wide open looks the three Kittitas guards were seeking out from beyond the 3-point arc.
All told last night, Kittitas put up 26 bombs from treyland...hitting on just nine of them. The Coyotes' top gun, B.J. Fletcher, was held to just nine points, however.
"He's been their go-to guy so far this season. We did a good job of containing him," Wagenaar said. "I was pleasantly surprised we played defense as well as we did."
Offensively, the Knights didn't do all that badly either. Powered by the inside play of both Cole Van de Graaf and Joel Koopmans, who together tossed in 24 points, and the game high 16 points from guard Aaron Van de Graaf, Sunnyside Christian opened a 10-5 first quarter lead, extending the advantage to 26-19 at the half. The Knights went on to slowly pull away from the host Coyotes, claiming 19-16 and 17-14 scoring advantages in the third and fourth quarters.
Wagenaar said Jesse Brouwer's trey to open the second half helped spark the Knights to regain control after the break.
The one down side to the Knights' play last night was their free throw shooting. They hit just 6-of-21 from the charity stripe.
"It was tragic. It was ridiculous," Wagenaar said, unable to come up with an answer for all the missed foul shots. "We work on free throw shooting at every practice. I don't know what it is."
Rebounding-wise, Sunnyside Christian settled for a 35 to 30 advantage on the boards, with Koopmans leading the way with 11 rebounds (and three blocks) and Cole Van de Graaf adding seven rebounds. Defending the 3 and trying to push the ball upcourt as quickly as possible took away some rebounding opportunities for the Knights, Wagenaar said, "...but when you try to get ahead in one area you usually have to give something up in another.
"For us last night, we got a lot of breakouts that led to some quick buckets," he said.
Still, he insists his team needs to block out better inside the paint, which will lead to more rebounds even with the type of game the Knights are running.
"And, we have to shoot free throws better," Wagenaar quickly added.
Sunnyside Christian (2-0) is scheduled to play its home opener this coming Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Mount Vernon Christian. The Knights will take on Shoreline Christian the following day at 2:30 p.m.
S'side Christ. 10 16 19 17 -62
Kittitas 5 14 16 14 -49
Sunnyside Christian: Koopmans 9, C. Van de Graaf 15, Van Boven 0, J. Brouwer 5, L. Brouwer 4, A. Van de Graaf 16, DeVries 6, Meininger 5, De Jong 2.
Kittitas: N. Missling 11, B. Gibb 14, B. Fletcher 9.