YAKIMA - A strong defensive effort through the first three quarters of play last night allowed the Sunnyside High School boys basketball team to hold off a charge by West Valley.
The Grizzlies beat the Rams 47-40.
"We played a real good first half," Sunnyside Coach Ron Rowe said. "Our defense was strong and we did a good job on Tanner Albrecht and kept him off the boards."
Sunnyside's Chance Graff covered Albrecht and held West Valley's big man to just six points. Just as important, Graff was able to limit Albrecht on the boards.
This allowed Sunnyside to grab 34 rebounds to West Valley's 26.
"We had consistent rebounding in the game," Rowe said. "There was a letdown in the third quarter and the early fourth but we picked it up down the stretch."
The Grizzlies jumped out to an 8-4 lead after one quarter and then pushed that to a seven-point lead at halftime, 19-12.
Sunnyside then doubled its lead to 14 points after three quarters, leading 37-23 to start the fourth quarter.
That's when the Rams made their move.
West Valley cut Sunnyside's lead to six points late in the fourth quarter but the Grizzlies settled down and extended it back to 10 points. West Valley got a late 3-point shot to cut the final score to 47-40.
A key to the win was Sunnyside's ability to take away the flex-cuts West Valley likes to run, Rowe said. This was done by the Grizzlies applying strong pressure on the Rams as they came up the court.
Sunnyside was led by Matt Johnson with 12 points and three steals. James Sanchez dropped in nine points for the Grizzlies. Jacob Bos finished with six points and nine rebounds. Jordan Esqueda had six points, as well, and grabbed five rebounds, made three assists and committed four steals. Alfredo De La Barrera added six points, grabbed seven rebounds and made two assists. Matt Bermudez rounded out Sunnyside's scoring with three points.
West Valley was led by Mac Wood with 14 points. Taylor Burnt added 10 points. Ken Taffolla finished with seven points and Tyler Cluff had three.
"It was a good win," Rowe said. "It's always good when you can get a win on West Valley's floor."
Sunnyside (1-1, 4-3) will travel to Southridge High School on Friday, Jan. 8, and then host Kennewick on Saturday, Jan. 9. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.