Timely free throw shooting helped the Sunnyside Grizzly boys basketball team hold on for a 52-46 victory CBBN victory at Pasco this past Friay night.
The win placed Sunnyside in a tie with Southridge for the CBBN's sixth and final playoff berth. The Grizzlies and Suns will play a loser-out one-game playoff tomorrow, Tuesday, at Richland High School at 7 p.m.
Friday's win snapped a downturn in which Sunnyside had lost seven of its last eight games. The skid threatened to leave the Grizzlies outside looking in for the CBBN's playoff chase.
Sunnyside's two areas of struggles during the losing skein were free throw shooting and blocking out opponents under the hoop.
The Grizzlies did both just well enough to escape with a victory on Friday, outrebounding the Bulldogs 33 to 20 and making just enough free throws in the final minutes (4-of-9) to preserve the win.
Sunnyside nursed a two-point lead at the half, 28-26, then relied on third-quarter defense to open up a six-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"In the third quarter we came out and played some really good defense, we just did a really good job of limiting them to one shot and blocking out," said Grizzly Assistant Coach Ruben Fernandez. "When we do those things it really makes a difference."
Israel Manzo led Sunnyside with 20 points to go with five rebounds, while Eric Amaro added 10 points and five boards. Eduardo Salmeron and Greg Spini led the Grizzlies in the paint with six boards each to go with five and three points, respectively. Brandon Daley and Jessie Leija were defensive stoppers for Sunnyside as each recorded two steals.
Julian Figueroa sparked Pasco with 21 points and eight rebounds.
It was a different story Saturday night, as second-ranked Kamiakin lived up to its billing in a 64-42 win over Sunnyside.
The Grizzlies actually stayed right with the hosts for a half, trailing just 26-18 at the break.
But the Braves rolled in the third quarter, canning three consecutive 3-point shots in the stanza for an 18-9 run that put the game away.
"With them they have so many weapons that they can beat you inside and they've got some sharpshooters on the outside," Fernandez said of the pivotal third quarter. "You have to pick your poison with them. We gambled and tried to take away the inside game and they hit some big perimeter shots."
Despite the loss to the 19-1 Braves, Fernandez said he was pleased with Sunnyside's effort. "Our kids played with a lot of heart and never quit. We were real proud of the effort they showed."
Fernandez also noted the Grizzlies didn't get many calls when driving to the paint, attempting just four free throws compared to 21 charity tosses awarded to Kamiakin.
Manzo tallied 25 points and climbed the ladder for six rebounds to lead Sunnyside, while Spini and Cody Fernandez scored eight and seven points, respectively.
Kamiakin 6-6 post Justin Pedley led the Braves with 24 points, followed by 12 points each from Zach En'Wezoh and Javon Williams.
Sunnyside (4-10, 9-11) hopes to keep its season alive at tomorrow night's tiebreaker. A loss ends the Grizzly season while a win would send them to the District tourney at Hanford. If Sunnyside wins tomorrow, Fernandez said the Grizzlies will likely play the host Falcons this Friday at 7 p.m.