GOLDENDALE - The top ranked Sunnyside Christian Knights (22-0) enter the 1B State tournament this coming Wednesday as the odds-on favorites to win it all.
Ranked No. 1 all season in the 1B state poll, the Knights lived up to that billing last Friday by trouncing the Trout Lake Mustangs, 81-34, in capturing the Greater Columbia 'B' League District title.
For Sunnyside Christian, this marks the sixth time the Knights have won the District championship in the past 13 years. The 2006-07 season also brought the Knights their ninth league title in the past 11 years.
The icing on the cake this season for Sunnyside Christian will be a State title. If the team reaches that goal, it would be the first ever undefeated season in school history. The Knights begin their quest towards that end this coming Wednesday in the Yakima SunDome. Their first round State tourney opponent will be Odessa, a sub-.500 club that competes in the Bi-County League. Should the Knights win that 5:30 p.m. match-up, they'll advance to a 7:30 p.m. quarter-final game on Thursday against either Lummi or St. John/Endicott, who face off against one another Wednesday.
In securing the Greater Columbia 'B' League's only berth to State last Friday, the Knights made short work of the Trout Lake Mustangs. Sunnyside Christian, employing a half-court trap that resulted in 10 first quarter turnovers, built a 16-1 lead enroute to a 31-8 first quarter advantage.
SCHS Coach Dean Wagenaar called off the trap after his club got up by 20, opting to put his Knights into straight man coverage the rest of the way. But even without the high pressure defensive alignment, Sunnyside Christian easily handled the Mustangs, outscoring them 9-5 in the second quarter using mostly bench players, and 27-8 in the third period.
Trout Lake's Tim Dearden, the Mustangs' top scorer this season, was limited to 5 points in the game.
"We rotated several players on him, and in the second half Nick De Jong made things really hard for him," said Wagenaar in explaining how the Knights shut down the proficient scorer.
The bottom line last Friday, said Wagenaar, "Our kids came ready to play."
Offensively for Sunnyside Christian, four Knights scored in double figures. Senior Aaron Van de Graaf led the way by pouring in a game high 19 points, 16 of those coming before halftime. Van de Graaf also came up with a game high five steals, and was credited for three assists.
Another senior, Lucas Brouwer, also had a big night. He pumped in 12 points, dished four assists and came up with three swipes. Senior Cole Van de Graaf added an 11-point, five-assist and three-steal effort to go along with his team high seven rebounds. Also for Sunnyside Christian, junior Joel Koopmans canned 11 points while grabbing six rebounds and totaling four assists and three steals.
Also getting in on the action were the seniors De Jong and DeVries with a combined 14 points. Junior Jesse Brouwer chipped in five points and came up with four steals, as well.
"A true team effort," said Wagenaar.
Trout Lake 8 5 8 13 -34
S'side Christian 31 9 27 14 -81
FG-Trout Lake 12/34, S'side Christian 35/59. 3-pt.-Trout Lake 4/14, S'side Christian 10/24 (A. Van de Graaf 3, L. Brouwer 2, N. De Jong 2). FT-Trout Lake 6/12, S'side Christian 1/4. Rbd.-Trout Lake 20, S'side Christian 31 (C. Van de Graaf 7, Koopmans 6). TO-Trout Lake 29, S'side Christian 12.
Trout Lake: L. Dearden 9, K. Wood 9.
S'side Christian: Koopmans 11, C. Van de Graaf 11, Van Boven 0, J. Brouwer 5, M. De Jong 2, L. Brouwer 12, A. Van de Graaf 19, Friend 2, DeVries 6, Meininger 3, N. De Jong 8, Freepons 2.