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Knights split weekend games

Trevor Wagenaar knocked down 16 points to lead a balanced attack by the Sunnyside Christian Knights in their dominating 77-22 victory over the Bickleton Pirates last Friday night.

It was the 1B league opener for both clubs.

Saturday evening at 2B Riverside Christian, the Knights weren't as fortunate. The Crusaders, improving to 8-2 on the season, won the non-league encounter, 41-35.

The weekend split leaves Sunnyside Christian's boys basketball team with an overall mark of 5-3.

In falling to Riverside Christian on the Crusaders' home court Saturday, the much taller Knights had no answers for the speedy tandem of Jeremy Pynch and Derek Byrne. The two playmaking guards controlled the tempo, choosing more often than not to use up most of the shot clock on each of Riverside's possessions.

"They kept it a low possession game," said Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar.

"The two of them, Pynch and Byrne, handle the ball very well, they're very patient. They made it extremely hard for us because they're so quick and good at what they do."

When it was time for Riverside Christian to take the ball to the hole, it was usually Pynch or Byrne sealing the deal. Together, the duo poured in 28 of the Crusaders' 41 points. The two guards also set up Riverside's big man, Scott Shively, by drawing defenders to them on drives to the hoop, then dinking the ball off to the center, who responded by canning 10 points.

The lone Sunnyside Christian player to reach double figures Saturday was 6'6" Steven Broersma. He notched a game-high 19 points, with all of his shots coming from point-blank range. No other Knight scored more than six points in the game.

After a nip-and-tuck opening quarter, with the Crusaders up 12-8, Riverside Christian extended its advantage to 20-12 in the second period. Instead of folding, the Knights roared back, piecing together a 10-0 run to regain the lead. Wagenaar and Broersma each had a pair of buckets during that stretch.

Sunnyside Christian went into the half up by one, 22-21.

The Crusaders outscored the visitors by four in the third quarter to take a 33-30 advantage into the final stanza.

Sunnyside Christian had several golden opportunities to snatch the lead back from the Crusaders in the opening moments of the fourth period, "...but we just missed our shots," said Wagenaar.

A deciding blow was then struck by Riverside Christian when Pynch, off-balance and with the shot clock ready to expire, launched a desperation heave from behind the 3-point line. The ball banked in off the glass, making it 36-30 in favor of the Crusaders.

The crushing blow for Sunnyside Christian was self-administered. The Knights, trailing only 36-32, missed five consecutive free throws. They ended up making just 1-of-6 from the foul line in the final quarter, 3-for-12 overall for the game.

"Our free throw shooting has been horrid this season," said Wagenaar. "We work and work on it in practice...and for the most part are hitting our shots there. But during the games, we can't get them to fall."

The missed opportunities from the foul line late in Saturday's game resulted in the Knights only scoring five fourth quarter points. The eight points Riverside Christian got down the stretch accounted for the final 41-35 score.

"Defensively, we played well enough," said Wagenaar. "But offensively, we missed four or five shots from the field we shouldn't have, and then missing all those free throws...you can't do that against a team as good as Riverside Christian is."

Free throw shooting was a problem for Sunnyside Christian last Friday, too, as the Knights made just 1-of-5 from the foul line against Bickleton in the two teams' league opener. But with the Knights sinking 35-of-65 field goal attempts, which included a 6-for-13 effort from behind the 3-point arc, they had little trouble in getting past the visiting Pirates, 77-22.

In Bickleton's defense, the rebuilding Pirates have six freshmen on their team.

Peter Clinton ended up as Bickleton's top scorer Friday, dropping in six points.

Sunnyside Christian had four players score in double figures. Wagenaar led the charge with 16 points, going 7-for-11 from the field. Also in double figures were Broersma and Kevin DeJong with 12 apiece, and Tim DeVries with 10 points.

Sunnyside Christian jumps back into league play this coming weekend with a game at Yakama Tribal in Toppenish on Friday and one at home on Saturday against Klickitat.

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