Sunnyside's Alfredo De La Barrera helped lift the Grizzlies over the Southridge Suns this past Friday night with a last second shot that cracked open a tie game. Sunnyside then beat the Kennewick Lions by a comfortable margin on Saturday.
The two wins bump up Sunnyside's record in the Columbia Division in the CBBN to 3-1 and the Grizzlies are 6-3 overall.
In Friday night's match-up Sunnyside was able to keep the Suns' top post player in check. Porter still scored 21 points in the game but Sunnyside Coach Ron Rowe said he scored only eight of those 21 points in the second half, all in the third quarter.
Another thing going in Sunnyside's favor Friday night was the calls. The Grizzlies made 32 trips to the free throw line, from where they connected on 17 shots.
"We were able to draw some fouls, but we weren't consistent at the line," Rowe said. "Because of that Southridge was able to stay in the ball game."
The Grizzlies led 12-9 after one quarter and held a 23-21 lead at halftime.
Besides taking more shots at the free throw line the Grizzlies had more opportunities from the field, as well. Sunnyside took 64 shots in the game to Southridge's 46 attempts. What kept the game close is that the Suns made 21 of those attempts while the Grizzlies could only capitalize on 18 shots.
The heads-up play of the Suns allowed Southridge to head into the final quarter with a one-point lead, 39-38.
The lead changed hands several times in the fourth quarter and was tied at 51-51 with 35 seconds to play. The Grizzlies held on to the ball, taking the clock down so Sunnyside could take the final shot.
As the seconds ticked off De La Barrera hit an eight-foot jumper and was fouled on the play. He made his free throw as Sunnyside won the game 54-51.
De La Barrera led the Grizzlies with 16 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Israel Manzo, Jacob Bos and Chance Graff each had eight points for Sunnyside. Matt Johnson and James Sanchez added five points, as well.
On Saturday the Grizzlies got past the Kennewick Lions, 66-51.
Rowe said Kennewick was pretty fresh and that showed in the first quarter of play as the Lions jumped to a 12-5 lead.
"We picked up our press in the second quarter and were able to attack more," Rowe said. "We played with more energy in the second quarter."
Manzo scored eight of his game-high 20 points and Esqueda had six of his 18 points in the second quarter as Sunnyside outscored the Lions 18-8 in the period and led 23-20 at halftime.
As the game progressed the Grizzlies began to wear down the Lions. In the fourth quarter Sunnyside connected on 8-of-12 shots from the floor and outscored the Lions 28-19 in the period.
Esqueda had eight points in the final period and teammates De La Barrera and Manzo added six points apiece.
A key factor in Saturday's game was the performances of both teams at the free throw line. Sunnyside finished 21-for-31 from the charity stripe. The Lions, however, could only convert five attempts from 20 trips to the line.
Sunnyside was led by Manzo with 20 points. Esqueda added 18 points and De La Barrera finished with 12. Bos had five points for Sunnyside, Graff and Johnson added four points each, and Sanchez finished with three points.
Rowe and the Grizzlies were pleased with their performance this past weekend.
"We played some tough teams and we stayed in the ball games and stayed competitive throughout," Rowe said.
Sunnyside will travel to Pasco on Friday, Jan. 15, to take on the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m.