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Knights improve to 9-0

The Sunnyside Christian express is on a roll, as the Knights knocked off both Bickleton and Riverside Christian this past weekend to up their season record to 9-0.

Both weekend victories came in league match-ups, which improved Sunnyside Christian to 3-0 in conference play.

Saturday at home against Riverside Christian, the SCHS boys basketball team rallied from a 25-16 halftime deficit to pull out a 58-50 win. Junior Joel Koopmans led the spirited comeback, dumping in 13 of his 17 points after intermission.

The Crusaders hit a long range trey to open the second half scoring, which upped their lead to 28-16. From there, though, the Knights began wearing Riverside Christian down with penetration after penetration into the lane, which resulted in a 16-2 run to close out the third period and a two-point lead heading into the final stanza of play. Sunnyside Christian kept the momentum going in the final quarter, opening the period with an 8-5 burst to increase its lead to 40-35.

"The second half we started attacking the basket hard," said SCHS Coach Dean Wagenaar.

Riverside Christian was forced to foul down the stretch in an attempt to catch up. The Knights repelled that ploy, however, by hitting 14-of-16 free throws in the late going. During that stretch, Koopmans was 4-for-4 from the foul line and Aaron Van de Graaf added a 5-for-6 performance.

The Crusaders were able to take the early lead on Sunnyside Christian by forcing numerous turnovers in the opening two quarters.

"We had 13 turnovers in the first half," said Wagenaar. "Most of those came because Riverside was stripping our post players."

It was a different story the second half, as the 6'1" Koopmans and 6'4" Cole Van de Graaf did a much better job at protecting the ball. Together, the two post players combined to shove 28 points through the net.

The Knights also got a team high, 20-point performance from their 6'1" guard, Aaron Van de Graaf, many of his buckets coming on slashing drives to the hoop.

"Beating Riverside Christian is a big win for us," Wagenaar said of his 1B team's victory over the 2B school. "They're probably one of the top six 2B teams in the state."

Sunnyside Christian opened weekend play with a trip to 1B Bickleton. Despite what Wagenaar called good coaching on the part of the Pirates and strong play in the paint by Bickleton's three big men, the Knights cruised to an 80-37 win.

The key to the victory was Sunnyside Christian's team speed.

"We put a press on at the beginning, then switched to a half-court trap. When we got up by about 20 we stayed in a zone defense the rest of the way," Wagenaar said.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Knights kept up a relentless attack, using their speedy transition game to subdue the Pirates.

The top scorers for Sunnyside Christian last Friday night were Aaron Van de Graaf and Brandon DeVries with 34 and 14 points, respectively. Bickleton's leading scorers were Tyler Jensen with 17 points and Eric Hess with 11.

"I give Bickleton credit. They played hard and they don't give up," said Wagenaar.

In looking ahead to this week's games, all three being league contests, Wagenaar said his crew will open with two road trips-at Toppenish on Tuesday against Yakama Tribal and this coming Friday at Lyle. Saturday, Jan. 13, the Knights return home for a league game against Trout Lake.

Sunnyside Christian 26 24 24 26 -80

Bickleton 11 12 7 7 -37

FG-Sunnyside Christian 36/66, Bickleton 13/34. 3-pt.-Sunnyside Christian 5/16 (A. Van de Graaf 3), Bickleton 2/8. FT-Sunnyside Christian 7/9, Bickleton 9/16. Rbds.-Sunnyside Christian 37 (C. Van de Graaf 9, DeVries 5, Freepons 4, N. De Jong 4), Bickleton 13. TO-Sunnyside Christian 12, Bickleton 17.

Sunnyside Christian: Koopmans 4, Van Oostrum 0, C. Van de Graaf 10, Van Boven 4, J. Brouwer 3, M. De Jong 2, L. Brouwer 0, A. Van de Graaf 34, Friend 0, DeVries 14, Meininger 4, N. De Jong 9, Freepons 0.

Bickleton: Tyler Jensen 17, Eric Hess 11.

Riverside Christian 17 8 5 20 -50

Sunnyside Christian 10 6 16 26 -58

FG-Riverside Christian 22/44, Sunnyside Christian 17/33. 3-pt.-Riverside Christian 6/14, Sunnyside Christian 2/6. FT-Riverside Christian 2/4, Sunnyside Christian 22/29. Rbds.-Sunnyside Christian 30 (Koopmans 10, A. Van de Graaf 5).

Riverside Christian: Chris Pynch 22, Jarred Caets 10.

Sunnyside Christian: Koopmans 17, C. Van de Graaf 11, J. Brouwer 3, L. Brouwer 2, A. Van de Graaf 20, DeVries 3, Meininger 0, N. De Jong 2.

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