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On to State for Lady Knights

GOLDENDALE - They have 12 State trophies between them and they will meet in the very first game of the very first State 1B girls basketball tourney.

Sunnyside Christian punched its ticket to the historical contest with a 60-43 drubbing of Trout Lake last Friday night at the District tourney in Goldendale.

The win gave the Knights the District title and a top seed at the State 1B tourney this week at the Yakima SunDome.

As noted, Sunnyside Christian squares off in the tourney opener of the new 1B formation this Wednesday at 9 a.m. against Garfield-Palouse who, like the Lady Knights, are a powerhouse among B schools. Sunnyside Christian has eight State trophies to its credit and Garfield Palouse has four.

In the only previous State tourney match-up between the two programs, the Lady Vikings downed Sunnyside Christian 64-53 in 1994's consolation final.

"It will be a tough opponent. Garfield-Palouse is a name that always comes up at tournament time," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Al Smeenk.

But to get that State contest, Sunnyside Christian first had to dispatch Trout Lake. The Lady Knights opened with a 15-6 first quarter lead and never looked back.

To its credit, Trout Lake rallied to within six points of Sunnyside Christian, down 25-19, at intermission.

"We started out with our pressure defense," Smeenk said of his team's half-court trap. "We took them out of any kind of offense early, but then we had a couple of turnovers that gave them easy layups."

The Mustangs' guard play also posed problems, forcing the Lady Knights to switch out of the pressure defense in favor of a man-to-man alignment.

"Their guards are good, they're quick," Smeenk observed.

In the second half, Sunnyside Christian put the contest away by outscoring Trout Lake 35-24, including an 18-13 run in the third quarter. Brittany den Hoed scored all six of her points for Sunnyside Christian during that pivotal third quarter.

At one point in that third stanza the Lady Knights led by as many as 20 points.

Smeenk said it came down to desire. A desire not to play Trout Lake again on Saturday if the Lady Knights lost on Friday. A desire to get that State berth wrapped up.

"It was gut check time," Smeenk said. "Our girls played fairly well."

Sunnyside Christian, 19-3 on the season, was led by Tori Van Wingerden with 15 points and double-doubles by Melanie Van Wingerden, 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrea Schutt, 10 points and 10 boards.

Jacqui Roberts scored seven and Hilary Bosma scored six points for Sunnyside Christian.

The Lady Knights were ranked fourth in the State 1B ranks heading into Districts. Smeenk feels his team has a shot at adding to the school's trophy case.

"If we play hard and play well we have a chance (at State)," he said.

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