RICHLAND - What a difference a couple of weeks can make!
In the season opener back on Dec. 4, the Sunnyside Christian High School boys basketball team buried the Liberty Christian Patriots, 56-39. Last night, the Patriots returned the favor, thumping the 1B Knights by a 61-42 score.
"I'm trying to stay positive...and positively we played bad last night," Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar said the morning after the non-league loss.
In terms of playing poorly, Wagenaar doesn't have to look beyond what the team mantra has been, at least up until this season, of valuing the basketball. His Knights coughed up the ball 24 times Tuesday evening, 15 of those turnovers coming in the first half when the Patriots forged a 34-26 lead.
Sunnyside Christian (2-2) briefly showed life after intermission, clawing its way to within six points of the Patriots early on in the third period. But Liberty Christian quickly snuffed the comeback hopes, mainly by draining three shots from behind the 3-point arc enroute to taking a 53-34 lead into the final quarter.
Each club only managed an eight-point performance in the final stanza to account for the final 61-42 score.
Besides not valuing the basketball and giving up 24 possessions, Sunnyside Christian had no answers for the Patriots' 2-3 zone coverage. The Knights didn't hit many shots from outside, which allowed Liberty Christian to stay in its zone and prevent the Sunnyside club from looking to the paint for its scores.
"Liberty Christian's players are long and lanky. They did a good job in their zone coverage of deflecting passes, which created several turnovers," said Wagenaar.
"It's did help any, either, that we didn't shoot all that well," said Wagneaar. The Knights made just 2-of-10 from 3-point range and were 18-for-41 overall from the field. It wasn't much better from the free throw stripe, as Sunnyside Christian canned only 4-of-9 attempts.
Liberty Christian, on the other hand, made 21-of-38 two-point field goal attempts, going 5-for-16 from behind the 3-point arc.
The Patriots were led by sophomore Jake Siefken, who hit two treys enroute to dropping in a game-high 18 points. Also in double figures for Liberty Christian were Aaron Salzano and Cody Brockman with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Sunnyside Christian had two players reach double digits in the scoring column...Kevin DeJong with a team-high 13 points and Steven Broersma with 11.
DeJong, too, was the Knights' rebounding leader. He scraped nine loose balls off the glass to help Sunnyside Christian to a 23 to 23 rebounding standoff with the Patriots.
Besides the double-digit scoring of DeJong and Broersma, Sunnyside Christian got offensive efforts from Tim DeVries with 9 points, Trevor Wagenaar with 5 and Ryker Van Belle with 4 points.
Bottom line, said the Sunnyside Christian coach, the Patriots played well against his team. "They exposed our weaknesses and took away our strengths."
The Knights continue their non-league schedule with a game against DeSales in Walla Walla today (Wednesday).