RICHLAND - The Hanford High School girls basketball team used an aggressive offense last night to quickly snuff out any hopes the Sunnyside Lady Grizzlies had of advancing in District tournament play, as the Falcons beat Sunnyside 73-37 in a loser-out game.
"Their whole team gave us fits," Sunnyside Coach Eric Berg said of the Falcons. "They were on fire."
This was despite the fact that Sunnyside handled Hanford's big post players, Laura Hughes and Jori Freeman, better than last Tuesday. Midway through the second quarter, Sunnyside's pressure finally had its desired effect on Freeman and Hughes. Sunnyside would double team the posts but the Falcons would then just kick the ball to their outside shooters who were able to find the basket.
Hanford opened up a huge lead in the first quarter thanks to the aggressive shooting of Freeman and Hughes. They combined for 16 points in the period as the Falcons led 23-4 after the first quarter. The two combined for six points in the second quarter before they had to sit because of foul trouble.
Down 38-16 to start the second half, Sunnyside used double-teams to give Freeman and Hughes trouble. That's when outside shooter P.J. Wilson took over for the Falcons, scoring 13 of her game-high 18 points in the second half.
The Falcons outscored the Grizzlies 16-7 in the third period and 16-14 in the final stanza.
Playing a solid game for the Lady Grizzlies for her last time was senior Katie Wutzke, who led Sunnyside with 15 points. Most of her scoring was done at the free throw line, where she went 8-for-11. Sarasa Partida sank seven points for Sunnyside and Sam Wright had five points.
Sunnyside's Toni Castillo shot 50 percent at the free throw line to contribute four points and Alina Villa, Destiny Maya and Megan Tyler each scored two points for the Lady Grizzlies. This was Tyler's last game in a Grizzly uniform as well.
Behind Wilson's 18 points, Hughes scored 15 points for the Falcons and Freeman added 13.
The loss gives Sunnyside a final record of 2-19 for the season.
"Our girls' effort was outstanding," Berg said. "We just don't match up well with them.
"It was an aggressive game. The girls fought and gave everything they had. It just wasn't our night."
Berg added that although the Lady Grizzlies' record doesn't show it, he feels they have improved steadily over the past two years.
"I'm very proud of the team and the girls should be too," he said. They've improved every year.