The second time around, the Sunnyside Christian High School Knights actually showed up and played a bit of defense.
Last night in the second meeting of the season with the White Swan Cougars, the Knights stormed out to a 14-4 lead, withstood a second half surge by the visitors and then pulled away down the stretch to claim a 52-39 victory. Tuesday's non-league win against the 2B Cougs avenged a 62-45 loss against White Swan back on Dec. 11. The 1B Knights improved their record to 4-2 with last night's showing.
Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar said his club spent the two-week holiday break practicing its defensive strategies.
"We've been off for two weeks. Our practices have been pretty long and hard...the kids worked hard.
"We went back to square one on defense.
"That work paid off last night," said Wagenaar. "Defensively against White Swan we played a lot smarter and harder than the first time we faced them."
Wagenaar was also pleased with the way his team crashed the boards against the Cougars, noting that White Swan only came away with four offensive rebounds last night.
"The first time we played them, they had five offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone, and scored on four of them," said Wagenaar. "We blocked out much better last night."
Hitting the boards the hardest for the Knights were 6'5" Kevin DeJong and 6'6" Steven Broersma, who scraped down 13 and 10 rebounds, respectively. With Steven Bosma, Ryker Van Belle and Trevor Wagenaar combining to collect another 13 caroms, Sunnyside Christian ended up claiming a 38 to 20 rebounding advantage last night.
Another number that pleased the Sunnyside Christian coach was the 19 turnovers his club committed. Too many, he admitted, but better than the 20-plus miscues his team has been making most games.
"The good thing is...not that many of those 19 turnovers last night came in the open court," said Wagenaar. "Most of them came on drives to the basket."
After the Knights opened Tuesday's game with a 14-4 explosion, White Swan clawed its way back to trail just 25-21 at the half. The Cougars, behind the double-digit scoring of Corey Williams and Joel Yellow-Owl, finally caught the home team and tied it at 30-all with 2:50 remaining in the third quarter.
"Our offense was sputtering a bit," said Wagenaar.
The Knights regrouped ever so slightly in the final two and a half minutes of the third period, though, to take a 34-31 lead into the final stanza. Buoyed by that resurgence, Sunnyside Christian then reeled off a 6-0 run to go up 40-31. The rest of the way the Knights outscored White Swan by a 12-6 margin to claim the 13-point margin of victory. Bosma and Broersma each had six points in that pivotal final period.
"Nobody was mistake free last night," said Wagenaar, "But it was a step in the right direction for our team."
Broersma ended up leading all scorers, tossing in 19 points. Bosma also had a double-digit scoring performance for the Knights, canning 10 points. DeJong and Tim DeVries combined for 14 points for the winners.
White Swan was paced by Williams' 15 points. Yellow-Owl added a 12-point effort.
Sunnyside Christian opens 1B league play this coming Friday night at home against the visiting Bickleton Pirates (0-6). The following night, Saturday, the Knights jump back out of conference play with a non-league game at 2B Riverside Christian.