SPOKANE - Despite a four-point loss in the State tourney quarter-finals, there were some positives for the Sunnyside Christian Lady Knights last night.
The Knights played well for all four quarters of last night's game, something they haven't been able to do the three previous times the two teams played this year.
The Knights also put themselves into a position to win the game in the end, but LaSalle came away with the victory, beating the Lady Knights 41-37.
Sunnyside Christian (19-7) will play Shoreline Christian (25-3) at 4 p.m. today in a loser-out game.
The Lady Knights gave LaSalle all they could handle last night. The first quarter saw LaSalle take an early lead. The Lightning took advantage of turnovers by the Knights to build a 6-1 lead midway through the first quarter.
After Emma Newhouse sank two free throws and Jacqui Roberts hit a field goal, the Knights closed the gap to 6-5. The Knights went down again by four points until Tori Van Wingerden drained a two and then on the next possession hit two free throws to tie the game at 11. Her sister Melanie then hit 1-of-2 free throws to give the Lady Knights their first lead of the game, 12-11 early in the second quarter.
The Knights held the lead at 16-15 before LaSalle ran off five straight points to go up 20-16. Thanks to a great effort by Newhouse and Tori Van Wingerden, the Lady Knights closed to within two and trailed 21-19 at the end of the second period.
In the third quarter the Lady Knights struggled against the LaSalle defense. "We struggled offensively when they pressured with their defense," SCHS Coach Al Smeenk said.
SCHS was out scored 10-5 in the third quarter. That five-point deficit would come back to haunt the Lady Knights. Still, they gave it their all and tried to pull off the victory. It almost happened.
Starting the fourth period down 31-24, things started to change for Sunnyside Christian when Brittany den Hoed hit a field goal and then Emily Hernandez sank two free throws to get the Lady Knights within three points with six minutes to go in the game.
LaSalle moved ahead by four points, but Hernandez nailed a three-point shot to make the score 36-35 with 1:03 left in the game.
LaSalle stiffened, however, taking advantage of trips to the free throw line and snagging several offensive rebounds that eventually doomed the Lady Knights' attempt to steal the victory.
The glaring weaknesses for the Lady Knights in this game were the 25 turnovers they committed. That and the horrible field goal percentage they shot.
"You're not going to win ball games shooting 26 percent," Smeenk said. "We couldn't make our baskets when we needed to."
Tori Van Wingerden led the Knights with 10 points. Hernandez finished with 9 points and Brittany den Hoed had 7 points and grabbed three rebounds. Newhouse did a good job crashing the boards. She finished with 5 points and snagged nine rebounds.
Now the focus for the Lady Knights is on beating Smeenk's alma mater, Shoreline Christian.
"We have to play hard today," Smeenk added. "It's going to be tough."