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S'side Christian boys clinch at least share of league title

TROUT LAKE - Last night's 73-33 walloping of the Trout Lake Mustangs earned the Sunnyside Christian High School boys basketball team, at the very least, a tie for top honors in the Greater Columbia 1B/2B League.

The state's top ranked 1B club, the Knights improved their conference record to 10-0 with Thursday night's victory. Sunnyside Christian, 16-0 overall on the season, has just one league game remaining, that at home against Yakama Tribal a week from today.

In corralling the Mustangs last night, Sunnyside Christian got the job done without its number two scorer, 6'1" junior Joel Koopmans, missing from the line-up because of illness.

"Joel is a significant part of our offense," said SCHS Coach Dean Wagenaar. "A lot of what we do goes through him.

"We had to go to some other options, and several kids stepped up," said Wagenaar.

The first name off Wagenaar's lips was that of 6'2" senior Brandon DeVries, who ended up shoving in nine points for the Knights. "Brandon played very well for us," said Wagenaar.

Wagenaar also praised the play of his big man, 6'4" senior Cole Van de Graaf, who torched the net for 12 points, which included a 4-for-7 performance from the free throw line. Van de Graaf also led the Knights to a 31 to 19 rebounding advantage by snaring eight boards.

Also filling the void left by Koopmans were Jesse Brouwer and Luke Meininger.

Brouwer was well over his scoring average with a nine-point effort last night, but perhaps more importantly the defensive specialist shut down Trout Lake's point guard. "Jesse played some tremendous defense on their point guard last night," said Wagenaar. "He made everything extremely difficult for that kid, every time he touched the ball."

Meininger, a 5'11" senior, stepped up his game, too, pumping in seven points for the winners. He and the sophomore Danny Van Boven each canned five points in the final quarter, when Sunnyside Christian outscored the Mustangs by a 23-4 margin.

The Knights' leading scorer this season, 6'1" senior Aaron Van de Graaf, came through as usual, also. Van de Graaf nailed down a 22-point effort, which included popping in 5-of-8 from behind the 3-point arc.

Nick De Jong, a 6'0" senior, posted some pretty decent numbers for Sunnyside Christian, too. De Jong was the team's second leading rebounder with his six-board total, and he chipped in four points.

Trout Lake, which received 13 and 10-point efforts from Tim Dearden and Dannon Kavanaugh, respectively, hung with the Knights early on, only trailing Sunnyside Christian by four heading into the second quarter of play. The Knights used a 15-8 surge in the second stanza, however, to take a 32-21 lead into the half, then basically socked the game away by opening the second half with a 10-2 run.

"We started out a step slow on defense," said Wagenaar, "But playing straight man-to-man defense the entire game we settled down and ended up with quite a few steals."

The Knights are scheduled to play a non-league game at Riverside Christian in Yakima tomorrow night (Saturday). Sunnyside Christian, at home back on Jan. 6, defeated the Crusaders in conference play by a 58-50 score. Wagenaar said Riverside has established a tradition of defending well its home gym, and he anticipates a hard fought battle tomorrow.

S'side Christian 17 15 18 23 -73

Trout Lake 13 8 8 4 -33

FG-S'side Christian 28/51. 3pt.-S'side Christian 8/18 (A. Van de Graaf 5/8). FT-S'side Christian 6/13 (C. Van de Graaf 4/7). Rbds.-S'side Christian 31 (C. Van de Graaf 8, N. De Jong 6), Trout Lake 19.

S'side Christian: Van Oostrum 0, C. Van de Graaf 12, Van Boven 5, J. Brouwer 9, M. De Jong 2, L. Brouwer 1, A. Van de Graaf 22, Friend 2, DeVries 9, Meininger 7, N. De Jong 4, Freepons 0.

Trout Lake: Tim Dearden 13, Dannon Kavanaugh 10.

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