WHITE SALMON - A pair of blowout wins in the opening round of the 1B District tournament this past weekend leaves the Sunnyside Christian High School girls basketball team one victory shy of advancing to Regionals.
The Lady Knights will be looking for that one victory this coming Friday at Mabton High School. The 6 p.m. District championship game that night will feature Sunnyside Christian and the winner of the Tuesday, Feb. 15, loser-out District tourney game between Trout Lake/Glenwood and Bickleton. Should Sunnyside Christian fall on Friday, the Lady Knights would have a second opportunity to qualify for Regionals in a District consolation championship game the following day in Mabton.
In advancing to the District title game set for later this week, Sunnyside Christian was never seriously challenged this past weekend. The Lady Knights, playing both of their District tourney games in White Salmon, easily dispatched both Klickitat and Bickleton. Friday against the Vandals, Sunnyside Christian prevailed by a 65-23 score. Saturday against Bickleton, the Lady Knights won nearly as impressively, coming out on top 65-27.
The two victories, which extends Sunnyside Christian's current winning streak to 15 games, improves the Lady Knights' overall record on the season to 19-3.
The catalyst for Sunnyside Christian in both games this past weekend turned out to be senior Analisa Van Oostrum. Fitting, considering Van Oostrum was just named the MVP of this year's Greater Columbia 1B League.
Friday against Klickitat, Van Oostrum knocked down a team-high 13 points to lead her club to the 65-23 win. Against Bickleton on Saturday, Van Oostrum ripped the net for another 12 points in the Lady Knights' 65-27 victory.
"Analisa wasn't the league's top scorer, but she's the kind of player who can get things going," said SCHS Coach Al Smeenk. "You might call her a sparkplug.
"It's nice the rest of the teams in the league recognized her as the MVP."
In besting Klickitat on Friday, Sunnyside Christian jumped out to a 25-9 first quarter lead. Janelle DeGroot, the one other senior playing for the Lady Knights this season, poured in all 12 points she had in the game in that opening period.
Any thought the Vandals might have had of regrouping fell by the wayside in the second quarter, as Sunnyside Christian outscored Klickitat by a 17-4 margin. Sophomores Marisa Broersma and Kara den Hoed combined for 10 points that period.
The 42-13 halftime deficit grew even larger for Klickitat after intermission, as the Lady Knights outscored the Vandals by a 23-10 margin in the final two quarters, even with Smeenk emptying his bench midway through the third period.
Samantha Brewer ended up as Klickitat's top scorer, shoving in 15 of the 23 points the Vandals tallied.
Besides the 13 and 12-point performances registered by the two seniors, Van Oostrum and DeGroot, Sunnyside Christian received double-digit scoring efforts from Broersma and freshman Stormee Van Belle. The two younger girls hit for 12 and 11 points, respectively. Also adding to the cause against Klickitat were Maddy Wavrin with six points, den Hoed with four, Katie Long with three points, and Makayla Morrow and Rita Dalrymple with two apiece.
Sunnyside Christian's shortest player on the team, 5'4" Alyssa Haak, didn't find the bottom of the bucket against the Vandals, but the mighty mite did lead her club to a 37 to 21 rebounding advantage. Haak scraped down a game-high seven loose balls off the glass.
"She's a little tiger under the boards," Smeenk said of Haak.
Saturday's District tourney semi-final game against the Bickleton Lady Pirates was basically decided in the second quarter. After the freshman Van Belle pumped in five points to lead her team to a 16-9 first quarter lead, Sunnyside Christian went on a 23-2 run in the second period. Van Oostrum and Haak combined for 14 points in that stanza.
Overall for the game, Van Belle finished with a game-best 16 points. Van Oostrum and Haak were the only other players to score in double figures, canning 12 and 10 points, respectively. Two of Van Oostrum's buckets came from behind the 3-point arc.
Also scoring for Sunnyside Christian on Saturday were den Hoed with nine points, DeGroot with seven, Long with five points, and Morrow, Broersma and Danika DeGroot with two each.
Bickleton was paced by Katelynn Clinton with a team-high six points.
Despite his club running rough-shod over the Lady Pirates, Smeenk said he was impressed with the effort of Bickleton.
"They work very hard out on the court. I give Bickleton credit for that," he said.