Officially, last night's non-league game against the visiting LaSalle Lightning went into the record books as a loss for the Sunnyside Christian High School girls basketball team.
Unofficially, the 1B Lady Knights, after going tit-for-tat with the undefeated 1A squad, weren't hanging their heads after coming up on the short end of a 39-35 thriller.
"It was nip and tuck throughout," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Al Smeenk. "LaSalle is a very athletic bunch. We can't be displeased with the outcome, not after the effort our girls turned in."
The Lady Knights, who got a combined 15 points from Analisa Van Oostrum and Katie Long and another 11 points from the duo of Kara den Hoed and Stormee Van Belle, showed they were going to be a force with which to be reckoned from the outset. They forged a one-point lead in the opening quarter, going into intermission up on LaSalle by a 19-18 score.
The one quarter Sunnyside Christian struggled to get the ball to drop through the hoop proved to be the team's downfall. The Lady Knights only tallied four points in the third period, compared to the Lightning's 11 third-quarter points.
LaSalle's scoring stars turned out to be Lauren DeGooyer and Karly Sattler. DeGooyer, who burned the Lady Knight defenders on a couple of backcourt picks that transitioned into easy buckets, ended up pouring in a game-high 16 points. Sattler added a nifty 12-point performance.
The Lady Knights fought back to make a game of it in the final period, actually outscoring the visiting Lightning by two in the final stanza. The backbreaker that did in Sunnyside Christian, however, came with just a couple of minutes left, when Sattler buried her second long range 3-pointer of the game.
Going into Tuesday evening's contest the concern on Sunnyside Christian's part was the inordinate number of turnovers the team had been committing of late. But with a combined 47 cough-ups in their two games last weekend, the 18 turnovers the Lady Knights had last night was a definite improvement.
"And only one of those came in the first quarter last night, when LaSalle threw everything, plus the kitchen sink, at us," Smeenk said, praising the focus of his players to keep a handle on the ball.
"Other than a couple of turnovers that came at inopportune times, when we had the ball we played pretty well," he added.
Smeenk said he continues to be even more pleased with what he's seeing from his club on the defensive end of the court. Last night, it was the first time this season he didn't have his Lady Knights playing a straight-man defense, electing instead to set them up in matching 2-3 zone coverage.
"LaSalle, they're too athletic for us to play straight-man against them. The matching 2-3 zone allowed us to stay in the paint," he said, explaining the guards never extended their coverage beyond the 3-point arc.
"Last night, anyway, it worked out for us. The girls are doing a good job of playing defense. They're giving 100 percent-plus," Smeenk said.
Smeenk, too, has no complaints from what he's seeing in terms of crashing the glass. For the seventh consecutive game this season, in as many outings, his Lady Knights hauled in more caroms than their counterparts. Powering Sunnyside Christian to its 30 to 21 rebounding advantage last night was sophomore Marisa Broersma, who scraped six rebounds off the boards.
Scoring-wise for the Lady Knights Tuesday evening, Van Oostrum paved the way with a team-high eight points. Long, who knocked down the only shot from behind the 3-point line for Sunnyside Christian, finished with six. Also scoring for SCHS were den Hoed with six points, Van Belle with five, Janelle DeGroot with four, Broersma with three points and Alyssa Haak with two.
Team-wise, the Lady Knights were 35 percent from the field, which included a 1-for-4 effort from behind the 3-point line. From the charity stripe, Sunnyside Christian made 8-of-14 foul shots.
If the roads are passable later today (Wednesday), considering the falling snow, Sunnyside Chrisian will trek to Touchet to take on the 1B Indians.