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Knights get back on track with win over Yakama Tribal

TOPPENISH - Chad Den Boer led the way for the Knights with a game-high 23 points as Sunnyside Christian got back on the winning track, running away from Yakama Tribal for a 71-38 win Tuesday night.

The Knights' Aaron Van de Graaf also contributed in a big way, dumping in 17 points, all of which came in the first half of play.

"We were thankful that someone showed up (in the first half)," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar.

Wagenaar's club shot just 9-of-36 from the field in the first half and built a 28-17 lead going into the intermission.

"We couldn't make a shot," Wagenaar said.

That was a far cry from the last meeting between the two clubs, which took place on Jan. 7.

In that meeting when the Knights beat the Eagles 98-44, they had a 40-plus point first half.

Wagenaar said he's had a tough time figuring out his team emotionally this season. Some clubs are loose and easy to talk to before games, but his team has had times where it's been loose and other times when it's been tight.

And those games when his team isn't loose and ready to play, the players struggle to open the games, he said.

"We are really struggling to start out games," Wagenaar said.

That wasn't a problem in the end against Yakama Tribal because his team showed up in the second half and didn't turn the ball over much, committing just eight turnovers for the entire game.

But letting teams stick around early in games may end up costing his team games down the stretch, Wagenaar said.

"The longer you allow teams to hang in there, the more confidence they get," he said.

Fortunately fouls by the Eagles put the Knights at the free throw line several times throughout the course of the game.

Sunnyside Christian made 26-of-38 from the charity stripe to help seal the victory.

Wagenaar said most of those missed shots came from his bench players once he pulled the starters when his team had a large enough lead.

Den Boer led the Knights in rebounding, completing a double-double by hauling down 18 boards. Den Boer also had two blocks.

Sunnyside Christian sophomore Joel Koopmans also pulled down several rebounds for his team, collecting seven to go along with his 4 points.

Senior John Bosma lead the Knights in blocked shots, swatting three. He also collected two rebounds.

The win improves Sunnyside Christian's league record to 5-1 and 10-2 overall.

The Knights host two league games this weekend, facing Klickitat on Friday night before playing LaSalle this Saturday.

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