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Lady Grizzlies split games

It appeared the Sunnyside girls hoop team was going to win its league openers this past weekend after winning Friday's game 55-42 at Southridge, but the team faltered 62-58 to Kennewick Saturday.

The Lady Grizzlies were on the losing end of the stats Friday until the final stanza.

Southridge outscored Sunnyside 11-10 in the opening quarter, but the Lady Grizz fought back, scoring 14 points in the second quarter.

Sunnyside led the first half 24-19 and held on by a thread in the third quarter, scoring 11 points to the Suns' 14.

The score was 35-33 in favor of the Lady Grizzlies at the end of the third quarter.

"The game wasn't too bad, although we lacked intensity and efficiency the first three quarters," said Sunnyside Coach Rick Puente.

He said his team "really turned it on in the fourth quarter."

The Lady Grizzlies outscored Southridge 20-9 in the final stanza.

"Our defense created easy opportunities, which led to some scoring," said Puente.

He said, "Coming into the fourth quarter, we challenged the girls to step up and they rose to the occasion, closing the door in the final quarter."

Leading the team was Jordan Rodriguez and Vanessa Alvarez with 13 points each. Six of Rodriguez's points were from beyond the three-point arc.

Celia Vargas had two successful three-point shots and scored a point from the charity stripe.

Puente hoped the victory would carry over on Saturday, giving Sunnyside momentum.

However, the Lady Grizzlies suffered a close loss to the Lions after Kennewick took control of the game 18-16 in the opening quarter.

The lead wasn't terribly large, but the Lions maintained it, with a 29-26 lead by the end of the first half.

The third quarter was when Kennewick cushioned the lead, however. The Lions outscored Sunnyside 17-10 in the third stanza for a 10-point lead.

The final quarter appeared as though the Lady Grizzlies might be able to close the gap. Sunnyside scored 22 points, but Kennewick was able to come up with points to keep the Lady Grizzlies from earning the victory.

Sunnyside's Natalia Bazan led the team with 20 points.

"Natalia had a great game. We've been talking and she stepped up, hitting key shots," said Puente.

He said, "She was aggressive and really attacked the hoop. She was great both offensively and defensively."

Puente said the team faltered because it needs to find consistency in play.

"We have proven we can score and have had some big quarters. We have to find a way to perform at that level all four quarters," he said, noting the Lady Grizzlies played pretty evenly with the Lions until the third quarter Saturday.

"In the third quarter, it seemed the bucket had a lid on it," said Puente, stating defensive stops in the final stanza helped the Sunnyside girls.

"It was a tight final few minutes...it was a nail-biter at the end."

Rodriguez helped the Lady Grizzlies with 16 points, and teammates Monique Willingham and Sydnee Hernandez contributed with another seven points apiece.

Sunnyside will on Wednesday, Dec. 28, travel for a non-league match-up against East Valley.

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