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Grizzlies earn first league win

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Sunnyside's Jessie Leija (left) pushes the ball upcourt for the Grizzlies, as West Valley's Tyler Cluff gives chase.

The Sunnyside Grizzly boys basketball team earned its first league win of the season this past Friday with a 55-44 home victory over West Valley.

The contest opened with the Rams having the upper hand, a 10-6 first quarter lead. But Sunnyside took control in the second stanza, using a 14-7 run to lead 20-17 at the half.

Israel Manzo sparked the Grizzlies' second quarter surge by scoring seven of his game-high 19 points. Sunnyside opened the advantage a bit more, to five points heading into the fourth and final quarter.

The Grizzly advantage remained at five points, 48-43, with about two minutes to play in the contest. From that point the Grizzlies sealed the win by outscoring the Rams 7-1 to close things out. "We were able to draw some fouls," Sunnyside Coach Ron Rowe said of Sunnyside's late run. Indeed, the Grizzlies were 5-of-7 from the free throw line over the final two minutes.

Sunnyside was sparked by its big men in the final quarter, as Andrew Daley scored six of his eight points in the fourth and Greg Spini scored four of his seven points in the fourth stanza.

"We had quite a bit of participation in our scoring," Rowe said. "We were trying to get more of a balance in our inside and outside scoring."

Eric Amaro also tallied eight points for Sunnyside.

The Rams were led by Jalen Peake and Austin Strock, with 15 points each.

Sunnyside held a 31-26 rebounding advantage, led by Daley and Amaro with six boards each. Spini added five rebounds.

The Grizzlies on Saturday lost at Eastmont by a closer-than-it-looks score of 60-49. Sunnyside actually led at the half, 27-24 thanks to a 17-9 second quarter run.

"Our defense was effective - we switched between a man and zone - and we were able to keep their perimeter shooters from getting away," Rowe said of the second stanza surge.

The contest was tied after three quarters and the score was still knotted midway through the fourth quarter at 44-44. That's when the Wildcats finally pulled away with timely free throw shooting and missed opportunities by the Grizzlies.

"We didn't convert our putbacks and open shots," Rowe said. "We shot three free throws and they shot 12 in the fourth quarter."

Rowe added, "We played a pretty solid game. We stayed in there and made a good defensive effort. We did break down a little bit in the fourth quarter and that allowed them to eventually take the lead."

Manzo led Sunnyside with 25 points, while Amaro scored six and teammate Trey Serl tallied five points for the Grizzlies. Trea Thomas led a balanced Wildcat attack with 16 points, followed by Darren Spaeth with 14 and J.J. Jahr with 11 points.

In the paint, Amaro led Sunnyside with eight rebounds, while Daley and Manzo grabbed seven and six boards, respectively.

With a league win under their belts, the Grizzlies (1-3, 3-7) will look to get back on the winning track tomorrow, Tuesday, at home against Hanford.

"We played much more aggressively (this past Friday and Saturday)," said Rowe. "We created some good situations for ourselves, rebounding real strong at times and getting after the loose balls. We need to keep playing better each quarter, playing tough D and making good things happen."

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