YAKIMA - Coach Al Smeenk surely took a couple of double-takes in the opening half of yesterday's first round game at the class 1B State girls basketball tournament. Surely, he must have thought, these weren't the same Lady Knights who had won by an average margin of 36 points a game enroute to posting a 19-2 record.
"We came out tighter than a drum," Smeenk said of Sunnyside Christian's play against the Mary Knight Owls, who hail from Elma.
"I don't know if we were mentally ready to go," he said, explaining that most of the 25 turnovers his Lady Knights committed came in the opening half. "And most of those were unforced," he noted, adding the Owls never pressed his club.
However, following a stern halftime talk, "I laid into them a little bit," Smeenk said, the Lady Knights found their form and went on a 22-2 third quarter run. From there, Sunnyside Christian cruised down the stretch to lay claim to a 59-28 victory over Mary Knight.
Wednesday's win in the Yakima SunDome advances the Lady Knights (20-2) into tonight's 7:30 p.m. quarter-finals contest against the Entiat Tigers (20-3). Entiat knocked off the North Sound Christian Lions of Mountlake Terrace yesterday, 55-39.
"Entiat presses the whole game," Smeenk said. "On paper we know what we have to do to break the press. It's a matter of taking care of the ball.
"Entiat is very athletic. They're a very good team.
"We have to be ready to go. We can't start out tonight like we did yesterday afternoon. That would be a problem for us," he said.
But, if the Lady Knights tonight play like they did in the second half yesterday, it may be Entiat that has the problem.
Behind the fab three of Andrea Schutt, Emma Newhouse and Melanie Van Wingerden, who combined for 19 of Sunnyside Christian's 22 third quarter points, the Lady Knights were unstoppable Wednesday in the second half against the Owls.
After intermission, said Smeenk, his girls reverted "...back to fundamentals. We started doing the things that got us here."
That meant filling the lanes and penetrating to the hoop.
The chief beneficiaries of going back to the basics were Van Wingerden and Schutt, who popped in 19 and 17 points, respectively. The aggressive, 5'7" Newhouse also made her presence felt in the second half, tossing in all eight of her points after intermission.
Smeenk also credits the defensive play of his club against Mary Knight, which held the Owls to just seven points in the final two periods.
"We pretty much stayed in a zone the entire second half," he said. "All the girls on the team contributed defensively, it was much better defense than we played in the first half."
Only two of Mary Knight's players scored more than two points in Wednesday's game...Amanda Vera with seven and Alicea Scott with a team-high 16 points. Of the 16 Scott scored, 14 of those came in the opening half.
In preparing for tonight's game against Entiat, the Lady Knights may have to find a replacement for sophomore starting guard Hilari Bosma. Smeenk said it's likely she contracted the flu last night, and may be unavailable to the team tonight.
"If that's the case, the other girls on the team are going to have to step up," he said.
John Fannin/Daily Sun News
Sophomore Hilari Bosma defends Amanda Vera of the Mary Knight Owls (14) in yesterday's opening round of the class 1B State girls basketball tournament, being staged in the Yakima SunDome. Bosma, a starter for the Sunnyside Christian Lady Knights, may be missing from the line-up in tonight's quarter-final contest against Entiat because she came down with flu-like symptoms late last night.