WHITE SWAN - The White Swan Cougars last night avenged an earlier loss this season to the Sunnyside Christian High School girls basketball team, winning 49-46.
The Cougars got double-digit scoring performances from Cassi Espindola and Danika Pimms. The duo knocked down 19 and 15 points, respectively.
In the season opener back on Dec. 4, Sunnyside Christian handily defeated the Cougars by a 64-46 margin. The Lady Knights, it appeared, looked like they would win again last night, leading the non-league game from the outset to almost the very end.
White Swan, however, took its first lead of the game with 55 seconds remaining.
"After that," said SCHS Coach Al Smeenk, "we couldn't get a defensive stop.
"It was a tough loss when you're ahead the whole way," Smeenk added.
Sunnyside Christian was up 37-28 after three quarters of play, but behind Espindola's 14, fourth quarter points, the Cougars pieced together a 21-9 scoring run in the last period to eke out the three-point victory.
Tuesday's loss spoiled a monstrous effort turned in by senior Melanie Van Wingerden. The 5-10 post player popped in a game-high 23 points for the Lady Knights, which included sinking 11-of-14 from the free throw line. She also led Sunnyside Christian to a 43 to 33 rebounding advantage by scraping 24 balls off the glass.
Van Wingerden's big numbers, intimated Smeenk, may have been one of the reasons the Cougars turned the table on his Lady Knights last night.
"We need to get more scoring from our guards," he said, noting the next highest scorer for Sunnyside Christian was Hilari Bosma with just seven points.
In defense of the Lady Knights' showing Tuesday evening, Sunnyside Christian hadn't played a game in three weeks.
"That's not an excuse, but it might be one of the reasons we didn't come out on top," Smeenk said.
"Also, we were on the road.
"Honestly, though, up by nine going into the fourth quarter, we made some mistakes down the stretch...and we had some poor clock management at the end," Smeenk said.
Sunnyside Christian also coughed up the ball several times in the late going. Ironically, the Lady Knights had been handling White Swan's press effectively up to that point, evident by the game-ending numbers, which show that Sunnyside Christian only turned the ball over 14 times total.
"We had our chances," said Smeenk. "But we give White Swan credit. They have a good team."
The Lady Knights (3-2) open 1B league play this coming Friday at Bickleton. Sunnyside Christian's girls will host Riverside Christian the following night.