Sunnyside Christian wrested a hard fought 59-31 decision from the visiting DeSales Irish girls basketball team last night.
The final score, said Lady Knights Coach Al Smeenk, was not indicative of the tightly contested, non-league battle that took place Tuesday evening.
"It was much closer than the score shows," he said. "It was a very physical game.
"DeSales is young, but they play very hard. They always have a strong program, and last night was no exception."
There were three keys to Sunnyside Christian pulling out the win, however.
The first was the play of senior Melanie Van Wingerden. The Lady Knights' top scorer this season, the 5'10" post dropped in a team-high 16 points against the Irish. Van Wingerden, too, excelled on the defensive side of the court, coming away with a team-best seven steals.
Four of those swipes, said Smeenk, were the direct result of Van Wingerden "...just playing some very good post defense."
The second key to the Lady Knights running their overall record on the year to 8-2 was the defensive job 5'6" senior guard Erika Den Hoed did in shutting down DeSales' top scorer, Katelyn Duncan, the coach's daughter.
"Erika played excellent against their big girl," said Smeenk. "After we switched out of our zone defense we went to man, and Erika pretty much shut the girl down," he said, explaining Duncan only managed 12 points in the contest.
"Erika defended and denied everything. She played a whale of a game," said Smeenk.
The third factor that swung the game Sunnyside Christian's way was the offensive play of 5'2" senior guard Abby Bangs. The mighty-mite dynamo erupted for 10 of her 13 points after intermission, when the Lady Knights outscored the visitors by a 27-11 margin. Bangs sank 2-of-3 from behind the 3-point arc last night, and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the foul line.
Sunnyside Christian also got major contributions from juniors Hilari Bosma and Kelly Newhouse. Bosma fired in nine points, and Newhouse for the second consecutive game led the Lady Knights on the boards, pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds to lead her club to a 29 to 13 advantage in caroms snatched from the glass.
Sunnyside Christian returns to league action this coming Friday at Trout Lake/Glenwood, then travels to LaSalle the following night.