YAKIMA - Who'd blame the Sunnyside Christian Lady Knights if they wanted to scratch Riverside Christian off their non-league schedule next season?
The Crusaders, after all, took three of four match-ups from the Sunnyside Christian girls basketball team this season, the most recent victory coming last night in Riverside Christian's home gym.
Tuesday evening's 51-48 non-league loss to the Crusaders closed out the regular season for Sunnyside Christian. The Lady Knights are 14-5 overall, with three of those defeats coming at the hands of Riverside Christian.
"We had some tears after the game," Lady Knight Coach Al Smeenk said. "The girls were upset, but we gave it everything we had."
Last night's loss was especially tough to swallow, considering Sunnyside Christian jumped out to a 10-0 lead enroute to building a 20-12 first quarter advantage. Hilari Bosma and Melanie Van Wingerden sparked the early outburst, tossing in eight and six points, respectively, in the opening period.
The Crusaders started the game with a 2-3 zone defense, but the Lady Knights picked it apart. Riverside Christian switched to a full-court press, which eventually led to 19 Sunnyside Christian turnovers, before finally settling on a half-court trap that was nearly as effective.
"We didn't adjust very well when they switched things up on us," Smeenk said.
That allowed Riverside Christian to pull within 28-23 at intermission. The Crusaders, behind Madison Hahn's six points and five from Amy Van Beek, then pieced together a 17-11 third quarter run to forge a 40-39 advantage heading into the final quarter of play.
The game remained nip-and-tuck down the stretch, so much so that the Lady Knights had a good look at the basket in the closing seconds for a potential game-tying shot.
Hahn ended up leading all scorers in the game, connecting for 27 points while coming away with half a dozen steals.
"She's very, very quick...a very good player," Smeenk said of Hahn.
The Crusaders also got a total of 11 points from Van Beek.
Sunnyside Christian's top scorers in the game were Van Wingerden, Julie Long and Bosma with efforts of 13, 12 and 11 points, respectively. Also scoring for the Lady Knights were Kelly Newhouse with four points and Abby Bangs, Joleen Van Wingerden, Erika Den Hoed and Renee Dalrymple with two apiece.
Melanie Van Wingerden, the older of the two sisters, pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds to lead Sunnyside Christian to a 32 to 14 advantage on the boards. Bosma added a six-rebound performance in the loss.
The Greater Columbia 1B League champion Lady Knights, who finished conference play with a perfect 8-0 record, open District tourney play this coming Friday at Zillah Middle School. The 6 p.m. game will be against Bickleton. A victory over the Lady Pirates will propel Sunnyside Christian into the District semi-final contest the following night in Zillah. That game is slated for 5 p.m.