PASCO - It's a fundamental part of basketball to rebound the ball. Rebounding not only takes away an opportunity for a team's opponent to take another shot, it also gives the team making the rebounds an extra opportunity.
The Sunnyside boys basketball team fully understood this last Friday night when they took on the Pasco Bulldogs at Chiawana High School, using an outstanding performance on the glass to beat the Bulldogs 67-52 in CBBN action.
It was Sunnyside's sixth consecutive victory, and improved the Grizzlies to 4-1 in division play and 7-3 overall.
The Grizzlies grabbed nearly twice the number of rebounds the Bulldogs did, outmuscling Pasco on the glass 42 to 23.
"We rebounded real strongly throughout most of the ballgame," Sunnyside Coach Ron Rowe said. "That made a big difference in the game. We were also able to force some turnovers from time to time and that kept them out of their offensive rhythm."
Both teams shot 36 percent from the floor but Sunnyside found its groove at the free throw line, where the Grizzlies shot a blistering 83 percent. Compare that with Pasco's 52 percent and it's easy to see where Sunnyside began pulling away.
Sunnyside and Pasco played it tight through most of the first quarter, but thanks to James Sanchez scoring eight points in the period and Alfredo De La Barrera adding five points, the Grizzlies were able to build a 17-14 lead.
Sunnyside's Israel Manzo dropped in seven points in the second quarter and the Grizzlies led 32-25 at halftime.
Sunnyside was able to limit Pasco's output by holding the Bulldogs' leading scorer, Jeremy Striecher, to just 12 points overall.
More importantly, the Sunnyside defense was able to get Striecher into foul trouble in the second quarter and the Grizzlies got him to foul out in the fourth.
"That helped us make that run in the fourth quarter," Rowe said.
Up by seven points to start the final period, Sunnyside got seven points from Manzo as Sunnyside finally pulled away from Pasco. Rowe said his team had built 10-point leads several times throughout the game but could never break the 10-point threshold. With Striecher out of the game and Sunnyside rebounding so well, the Grizzlies finally added to its 10-point lead.
Six different Grizzlies scored in the final quarter, ensuring Sunnyside's 15-point victory margin.
Manzo paced the Grizzlies with 17 points, five rebounds and two assists. De La Barrera added 13 points and grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds. Sanchez put up 13 points for Sunnyside, as well, including three baskets from three-point land.
Matt Johnson added six points for the Grizzlies' cause. Teammate Matt Bermudez added five points. Chance Graff and Jordan Esqueda each had four points for the Grizzlies. Greg Spini added three points and Jacob Bos finished with two points.
Pasco was led by Striecher with 12 points. Teammate Steven Poree added 10 points for the Bulldogs and Brandon Search finished with nine points.
Sunnyside has two very tough games coming up. The Grizzlies will travel to play the Wenatchee Panthers today, Jan. 19, at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers are currently a half game behind the Grizzlies in the Columbia Basin Big Nine Columbia Division.
On Friday, Jan. 22, the Grizzlies will host Davis High School at 7:30 p.m. Davis is currently undefeated in Columbia Division play and is the Grizzlies' only league loss this season.