SPOKANE - Shoreline Christian worried Sunnyside Christian Girls Coach Al Smeenk heading into Friday's loser-out game at State. He hadn't forgotten the 57-48 loss his girls suffered to Shoreline Christian earlier in the season at the Oakleaf Classic.
"The have a couple of really good girls," Smeenk said. "We knew we had to stop their big girls."
It turns out Smeenk need not have worried. Behind a solid man-to-man defense and the spectacular play from Andrea Schutt, the Lady Knights played past the Shoreline Christian Crusaders 50-43 last Friday night at the State tournament in Spokane.
The first quarter was back and forth with the biggest lead being 4 points. At the end of one, the score was tied at 12.
Shoreline Christian went on a 5-0 run to start the second quarter before Tori Van Wingerden hit a field goal and Brittany den Hoed put in a lay-up and was fouled. The extra shot at the free throw line was good and the game was tied again at 17.
The Crusaders opened a lead again, this time by 7 points, before Van Wingerden nailed a three-point shot to start the rally for SCHS. Schutt followed by hitting a three-point shot and Emma Newhouse hit 1-of-2 free throws to even the game at 25. Newhouse would hit two more free throws before halftime to make it 27-25, for the Lady Knights.
The third quarter was low scoring and foul plagued as both teams fought to find some kind of advantage. Shoreline Christian outscored the Knights and trailed by only one point entering the fourth quarter.
That's where Schutt stepped up her game.
"Schutt made a big difference," Smeenk said. "She defended their three-point shooter and that's what made the difference. She was in her face."
The Crusaders' Collen Woods scored 7 points in the first half but with Schutt on her in the second half, she only scored two points.
In the end, it was free throws and the Lady Knights hit 19-of-29 for the game to finally edge out the Crusaders.
Van Wingerden led the Knights with 13 points. Emily Hernandez had a solid game with 11 points. She was 8-for-10 from the free throw line.
Newhouse finished with 10 points and grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds.
For Shoreline Christian, Jennette Dekoekoek led all scorers with 20 points and 12 rebounds. She was followed by Woods with 9 points.
"Towards the end our free throws really helped," Smeenk added.
Friday's victory advanced the SCHS girls into Saturday's trophy round game to decide fourth and seventh place honors.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game because of their big post," Smeenk said of the match-up against Evergreen Lutheran.
The first quarter saw the Eagles take a 12-9 lead over the Lady Knights.
"As the game went along we made some changes," Smeenk explained. "We have great assistant coaches and we're always talking to each other."
The changes made the difference as the Lady Knights never looked back after the second quarter and won easily, 56-45 to grab fourth place.
After being down by 3 points after the first quarter, the Lady Knights came out and out scored the Eagles 15-10 in the second, 15-10 in the third and 17-13 in the fourth.
The key, Smeenk said, was defending against Evergreen Lutheran's big post and stopping the 3-point shooters.
"This was done with good, strong, man-to-man defense," Smeenk said.
Tori Van Wingerden again led the Knights in scoring with 13 points. Emily Hernandez added 12 points and she grabbed 9 rebounds. Emma Newhouse also had 12 points. Andrea Schutt finished with 7 points and had 7 rebounds for the Lady Knights.
"I'm tickled pink," Smeenk said of his team's fourth place finish. "Several of our girls really stepped it up. United, they were a pretty formidable opponent."
The Lady Knights' overall record this season ended up at 20-7.