MOXEE – Substituting freely and without fear of a letdown, Coach Rick Puente got exactly what he was hoping for in last Friday’s season opener against the 2A East Valley Red Devils.
“We came out of the gates really hungry,” Puente said of his Sunnyside Lady Grizzlies’ 19-2 surge to open the game.
Coupled with a 16-1 third-quarter run, the SHS girls basketball team prevailed handily, 58-30.
“One of our focuses this season is to start quick and sustain it throughout the game,” Puente said.
Sunnyside is also counting on having plenty of girls in the scoring column each night.
“We have some dynamic girls who can come off the bench. It’s exciting to call somebody’s number and not skip a beat,” Puente said.
That became clear at the outset last Friday, as seven different players scored for Sunnyside in the opening quarter.
Possessing the hottest hand for the 3A Lady Grizzlies was junior Jordan Rodriguez. The reigning Big Nine League player of the year, Rodriguez pumped in a game-high 13 points. Nine of those came via three shots from behind the 3-point arc.
Sunnyside also received a 10-point performance from Natalia Bazan.
Freshman Jessica Mendoza also stepped up big for the winners, canning 9 points.
Two of the team’s leaders from last season – Selena Rubalcava and Vanessa Alvarez – contributed mightily, too, with 7 points apiece. The two excelled in other areas, as well. Rubalcava came away with a team-high four steals, and Alvarez grabbed a team-best five rebounds.
Completing the scoring for Sunnyside were Tiana Perez with 6 points, Emilee Maldonado with 4 and Summer Hazzard with 2 points.
Team-wise, Sunnyside shot at a 53 percent clip from the field, which included going 4-for-10 from 3-point range. From the free throw line, the Lady Grizzlies were 6-for-11.
Anderson and Carpenter, with 6 points each, were East Valley’s top scorers.
In assessing his club’s play, Puente said the Lady Grizzlies were eager to run the court. He also was pleased with their defensive efforts, which resulted in the Red Devils committing 16 turnovers.
Asked where Sunnyside needs to improve, Puente mentioned his girls’ free throw shooting numbers. “And, we need to do a better job of getting the proper position for rebounding.”
The Lady Grizzlies have a second straight non-league road game this coming Tuesday at 2A Grandview. Sunnyside will open Big Nine League play this coming Friday and Saturday against Davis and Wenatchee. Both of those games will be in the Sunnyside gym.
‑ Bob Story can be contacted at 509-837-4500.