Sixth place finishers at last season's 1B State tourney, the Sunnyside Christian Lady Knights got their 2008-09 campaign off to a strong start last night by breezing past the visiting 2B White Swan Cougars, 64-46.
Senior Melanie Van Wingerden proved to be the workhorse for the SCHS girls basketball team Thursday evening. She recorded a double-double, tossing in a team-high 15 points and snaring a game-high 14 rebounds.
Her younger sister, junior Joleen Van Wingerden, also turned in a whale of a game by snagging 11 rebounds and chipping in six points.
Teammate Hilari Bosma, too, rose to the occasion, as she let the ball fly to the tune of 14 points, which included knocking down two of the three shots the Lady Knights connected on from beyond the 3-point arc.
White Swan, which received double-digit scoring from Sophia Perez and Kassy Espindola with 13 and 11 points, respectively, forged a slim 15-13 first quarter lead on Sunnyside Christian. The Lady Knights took the lead for good in the second stanza, however, putting together a 16-6 second quarter run.
"We opened with full-court man defensive coverage," said SCHS Coach Al Smeenk. "But then we switched to a match-up zone," he added, in explaining how his Lady Knights held White Swan to just six points in the second period. Sunnyside Christian stayed with its match-up zone coverage the rest of the way.
The second quarter turn-around can also be attributed to the play of the two Van Wingerden sisters. Melanie, the senior, poured in eight of her 15 points that period, and younger Joleen at one point came down with five consecutive defensive rebounds.
Smeenk also credited the play of his two guards, Bosma and Abby Bangs, as being instrumental in defeating the Cougars. Bosma, especially, excelled in the second half, when she found the net for 12 of her 14 points. Bangs added a 10-point effort on the night for the winners.
"Our guard play was very good last night," said Smeenk. "They drove to the hoop well and had a very decent shot selection."
The one negative that may have come from last night's season opening game was the 25 turnovers Sunnyside Christian committed. White Swan ran an effective press, but for the most part, said Smeenk, the mistakes could have been avoided.
"Many of our turnovers were unforced," he said. "It's something we'll have to work on."
Besides the combined 45 points from the two Van Wingerdens, Bosma and Bangs, Sunnyside Christian got seven points from Erica denHoed, six from Kelly Newhouse, three from Analisa Van Oostrum and a combined three points from Ashley Haak and Julie Long.
For the game, the Lady Knights connected on 17-of-52 shots from the field, which included a 3-for-8 effort from 3-point land. From the charity stripe, Sunnyside Christian made 27-of-38 free throws. White Swan was 10-for-26 from the foul line.
Sunnyside Christian outboarded the Cougars by a 41 to 21 margin.
The Lady Knights will continue their non-league schedule tonight (Friday) in Richland against Liberty Christian.