KENNEWICK - It was only fitting that it took an overtime period to decide the outcome of last night's District tourney match-up between the Sunnyside Grizzlies and Kennewick Lions.
The two boys basketball teams split their two previous games this season and last night's was another thriller.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Kennewick prevailed in overtime and advances to Regionals. Sunnyside's season is now over.
The Grizzlies outscored the Lions 24-18 in the fourth quarter, getting the game-tying basket from Gibby Briones with under three seconds to play. With momentum clearly in Sunnyside's favor, the Lions used numerous trips to the free throw line in the overtime period to get the win.
Sunnyside led for most of the first half.
"We were able to control the tempo of the game and keep the ball out of (Robbie) Mitchell's hands," Sunnyside Coach Ron Rowe said of his team's first half performance.
The Grizzlies held Mitchell to just two free throws in the first half.
"We didn't let him penetrate," Rowe added.
Sunnyside led 25-18 at halftime but Kennewick came out firing to start the third period.
"They came out and shot real well, we didn't," said Rowe.
The Grizzlies were just 3-for-7 from the field while Kennewick shot 7-for-10 on their way to outscoring Sunnyside 21-8 in the quarter to go up 39-33 at the start of the final quarter.
Back came Sunnyside behind the shooting of Justin Bos and Briones. The Grizzlies were 8-for-15 from the field in the final period with Bos scoring 10 points and Briones adding seven, including the tying shot.
Sunnyside was down by six points with under two minutes to play in regulation. Briones took a shot from behind the three-point arc and was fouled, sending him to the line for three shots. Briones calmly drained all three and after stopping Kennewick, Sunnyside was fouled again, sending Nathan Cornelius to the line.
He hit one of his two shots to cut the Lions' lead to two points. Sunnyside was again able to stop the Lions and this time James Sanchez was fouled and sent to the line. With a chance to tie the game, Sanchez hit 1-of-2 free throws to cut Kennewick's lead to just one with under a minute to play.
A Kennewick player was then fouled and he was able to make one of his shots to put the Lions back up by two points. Briones then found himself an open shot underneath the basket to tie the game at the end of regulation.
Rowe said the officials decided to call everything close, which put Kennewick at the line 14 times in overtime. The Lions got 38 attempts from the charity stripe in the game compared with Sunnyside reaching the free throw line just 13 times.
The Lions were able to hit their free throws down the stretch to come away with the win.
"The kids played real hard," Rowe said. "We rose to the challenge of an away game. I was pleased with how they hung in there and stayed strong throughout the ball game."
The Grizzlies finish their season with a 3-19 record.