YAKIMA - Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar will be the first to admit that at no point this season did he have a firm grasp on just how good his Knights were.
Now he knows.
Sunnyside Christian blew away the competition at the 1B State Boys Basketball Tournament, walking off the Yakima Valley SunDome court this past Saturday night with the championship trophy in hand.
For SCHS, it's the school's third State boys basketball title in the last four years, and sixth overall.
After knocking off Pateros 46-37 in the State tourney opener last Wednesday and then rallying from 19 points down in the quarter-finals on Thursday to edge Almira/Coulee-Hartline 55-53, the Knights fended off a run-and-gun Wellpinit Redskins squad in the semi-finals on Friday, winning 56-48. That victory set up a State title showdown match Saturday night against the very physical and talented St. John-Endicott Eagles.
The two squads proved to be evenly matched, considering the game had six lead changes and the score was tied at five different times. In the end, though, Sunnyside Christian prevailed by a score of 49-43.
The Knights took the lead for good on St. John-Endicott with a minute and 46 seconds left in the championship contest. The Eagles had knotted things up at 40-all with 2:15 showing on the clock on a Warren Miller field goal, his eighth and final basket of the game, which as it turned out gave him game-high scoring honors with 23 points. On the ensuing possession, Sunnyside Christian's Trevor Wagenaar put up two shots that fell off the rim, but both times teammate Ryker Van Belle grabbed the loose ball. With the second offensive rebound he collected, Van Belle shoveled the ball to the Knights' big man, 6'6" Steven Broersma, who promptly deposited the ball in the bank, make that the hole, to give the Knights a 42-40 lead with 1:46 remaining.
Miller, who after the game was named the 1B State tourney MVP, attempted to regain the lead for his team on the Eagles' next trip down court, when he launched a bomb from behind the 3-point arc. But he was off the mark, and the carom was collected by the sophomore Wagenaar, one of five rebounds he had in the contest.
St. John-Endicott quickly fouled Knights' point guard Steven Bosma. With 1:07 left, Bosma nailed the first one, but the second free throw went begging, meaning it was still a one-possession game with the Knights up 43-40.
Miller gathered in the missed foul shot for the Eagles, but in trying to advance the ball down court St. John-Endicott forward Dylan Schmick coughed up the ball.
Still trailing by three, the Eagles elected to again foul Bosma. With 1:01 showing on the clock, the point guard stepped to the charity stripe and this time drilled both shots to give his club a 45-40 lead.
Any thought the Knights may have had of leaving the Eagles in their wake quickly evaporated when Ben Harrision, with 45 seconds remaining, dropped in a 3-point bomb, his lone bucket of the game. That drew the Eagles to within 45-43.
Sticking with their tactic of sending one of the Knights to the free throw line, St. John-Endicott quickly hacked, you guessed it, Bosma. The junior didn't disappoint Knight fans, as he calmly sank both free throws to up Sunnyside Christian's lead to 47-43.
The Eagles ended up getting off four shots from treyland in the final 36 seconds of the game, but none of the long-range attempts fell.
The icing on the cake for the Knights came when the 6'6" Broersma hit 1-of-2 free throws with 27 seconds left and Bosma knocked down 1-of-2 from the foul line with nine seconds remaining. The end result...a 49-43 victory for Sunnyside Christian.
The four State tourney victories give the Knights an 18-game winning streak, and closes out their season with an overall mark of 23-3.
Bosma, in turning in the late game heroics from the foul line in Saturday's title contest, ended up with a team-best 11 points against the Eagles. He shared team scoring honors, however, with Wagenaar, who had 11 points, too, on 5-of-13 field goal shooting. Broersma added a nifty 10-point performance in the title game on 4-of-8 field goal stats. Sunnyside Christian's two off-guards, Van Belle and Tim DeVries, chipped in a combined 13 points with seven and six points, respectively. Rounding out the scoring for the Knights was 6'5" Kevin DeJong with a four-point effort.
DeJong led a balanced team effort in rebounding in the State championship game, gathering in seven boards to power the Knights to a 33 to 25 advantage in caroms collected.
The scoring leaders the night before in the State tourney semi-final contest against the Wellpinit Redskins included the trio of Broersma, Bosma and DeVries with 17, 14 and 10 points, respectively. DeJong added a nine-point effort to go along with his nine rebounds, the same number of loose balls scraped off the glass by Broersma.