"What do you do when you get a flat tire? You change the tire," Sunnyside boys basketball coach Steve Urrutia said of his team's mid-season change in strategy.
The change worked, as the Grizzly boys rolled to their first league victory of the 2006-07 season, a 45-36 win at home against Hanford last Saturday.
Last season, and for the first half of this campaign, the boys utilized a fast-paced full court offense-firing one three-pointer a minute-with frequent substitutions.
The frenetic paced worked last year, as Sunnyside finished above .500 and qualified for the postseason.
"Last year, it was the right offense for the right time and for that league (the Mid-Valley League)," Urrutia said. "The same system this year against bigger, stronger, faster kids (the 3A/4A Columbia Basin League) wasn't as successful."
Sunnyside set the tone early against the visiting Falcons, pushing out to a 14-7 first quarter lead on the way to a 28-16 advantage at the half.
Hanford nipped into the Grizzlies' lead in the third stanza, pulling to within 36-29 heading into the final quarter, but Sunnyside kept the Falcons at bay.
James Baysinger and Gibby Briones led a balanced Sunnyside attack with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Jessie Montelongo tallied 9 points.
Urrutia said the new-look Grizzlies now employ a half-court set offense and a straight man-to-man defense. "We just tell them keep your man in front of you," the coach said.
The slower tempo nearly earned Sunnyside a sweep this past weekend, as the Grizzlies rallied from a 16-point deficit before losing 61-58 at Kennewick last Friday.
Sunnyside trailed 36-20 at the half, then outscored Kennewick 38-24 in the second half to make it a game.
"We started hitting some shots, our defense has definitely gotten better," Urrutia said of the turnaround. "We did a good job, we had better energy in the second half."
Sunnyside had a chance to send the game into overtime, possessing the ball with 16 seconds left on the game clock.
The Grizzlies worked for the last shot in an effort to tie the game, but the three-point attempt went awry.
Montelongo led Sunnyside with 13 points, followed by James Baysinger with 10. Nathan Cornelius and Ryan Engel tallied seven and six points, respectively.
Sunnyside (1-2, 2-8) will host Southridge this Friday, Jan. 12.
"It's sure nice to know that we can compete with some of these teams," Urrutia said of his team's strong showing in CBL play last week. "This shows the kids that we're right with these guys. We think there's more wins to be had."
As far as the change of pace from fast to slow, Urrutia feels the results from last weekend speak for themselves.
"The bottom line is that we want to compete," he said.