GOLDENDALE - Helter and skelter-as good as nicknames as any for the Brouwer brothers, considering the havoc they wreak on the defensive side of the ball.
Last Friday night, the Sunnyside Christian duo sparked the Knights to their 21st victory of the season, an impressive 77-31 decision over the Klickitat Vandals. In the process, the District tournament win propelled Sunnyside Christian to within a single victory of advancing to the 1B State tourney.
The Knights will play for the chance to go to State this coming Friday night. They'll take on the winner of this Tuesday's District semi-final contest between Klickitat and Trout Lake. Friday's District championship game will be held in Goldendale, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
In knocking off Klickitat last Friday to earn a spot in the District title game, the unbeaten and state's top ranked Knights used their defensive prowess to subdue the Vandals. And it was the Brouwer brothers-Lucas and Jesse-who led that defensive surge.
Together, they accounted for 13 steals, many of which came off Sunnyside Christian's full-court trap.
"It took about three minutes into the game to step up the intensity to the highest level," SCHS Coach Dean Wagenaar said. He credits the Brouwer brothers for creating much of the confusion the Vandals had to deal with in trying to advance the ball upcourt.
"Those two kids, their defensive intensity is unmatched," said Wagenaar. "With our trap, we can turn them loose and they just trap like mad."
Turning up the heat on Klickitat early on resulted in the Knights jumping out to a 24-7 first quarter lead. Sunnyside Christian remained in its full-court trap the first couple minutes of the second period, "...until we got up by 22. They we played straight man the rest of the way," said Wagenaar.
"But it was quarter-court, in your face man defense," he added, which proved to be nearly as effective as the full-court trap, considering the Knights outscored Klickitat by a 35-15 margin the second half.
Wagenaar said the goal going into Friday's game was establishing a frenetic pace of play. "In turn, that makes the other team try to play beyond its ability," he said.
Such was the case with Klickitat, as the much quicker Vandals ended up coughing up the ball 32 times.
In addition to the Brouwer brothers disrupting the Vandals' play, seldom-used Danny Van Boven, a 5'8" sophomore, came through big, too. Van Boven, in just 10 minutes of time on the floor, collected six steals.
"Danny is very capable," said Wagenaar. "He played exceptionally well on defense last Friday. He looks to be one of our two starting guards next season."
It didn't hurt matters any, either, that Sunnyside Christian was red hot on the offensive side of the ball last Friday. In shooting from 2-point range, the Knights knocked down 71 percent of their shots (15-for-21). Sunnyside Christian also gladly took its 36 percent numbers from 3-point land, sinking 10-of-28 from beyond the arc.
And oddly, considering it was a postseason game, all of the Knights got into the scoring act last Friday. "All 12 of our kids scored," said Wagenaar. "It happened in a regular season game this season, but in the playoffs, that doesn't happen all that often."
Three of the Knights posted double-digit scoring performances, including the senior Aaron Van de Graaf, the team's leading scorer this season. He stopped-and-popped for a team high 15 points, 11 of them coming in the first half, when the Knights built a 42-16 lead. Joel Koopmans added a 14-point effort for Sunnyside Christian, 12 of those dropping through the net in the third quarter, when the Knights ran away from Klickitat by a 20-6 margin. Also in double figures for Sunnyside Christian was Jesse Brouwer, who poured in 10 points to go along with his team high seven steals.
"Jesse was everywhere for us," said Wagenaar, noting the 5'9" junior was afforded the ceremonial game ball.
His brother, 6'1" senior Lucas Brouwer, added a six-point performance while collecting six steals and dishing five assists.
Senior Brandon DeVries also had a big game for Sunnyside Christian, chipping in eight points and snaring a team high six rebounds.
For Klickitat, the unorthodox-shooting, high-flying Levi Sanchey led all Vandal scorers with an 18-point effort.
Klickitat 7 9 6 9 -31
S'side Christian 24 18 20 15 -77
FG-Klickitat 11/32, S'side Christian 25/49. 3-pt.-Klickitat 1/6 (L. Sanchey 1), S'side Christian 10/28 (A. Van de Graaf 2, J. Brouwer 2). FT-Klickitat 8/13, S'side Christian 17/26. Rbd.-Klickitat 18, S'side Christian 26 (DeVries 6). TO-Klickitat 32, S'side Christian 16.
Klickitat: H. Sanchey 6, Kessinger 1, Mason 4, L. Sanchey 18, McConville 2.
S'side Christian: Koopmans 14, C. Van de Graaf 4, Van Boven 4, J. Brouwer 10, M. De Jong 3, L. Brouwer 6, A. Van de Graaf 15, Friend 3, DeVries 8, Meininger 6, N. De Jong 3, Freepons 2.