Golden opportunities…they don’t come along all that often. But when they do, winners usually seize them and capture the moment.
Sunnyside had such an opportunity last Saturday night. And, by all outward appearances, it seemed the Lady Grizzly basketball team had the brass ring tightly in its grip.
Jumping on the Big Nine League leaders, the Davis Pirates, Sunnyside took control early and continually inched out further ahead as the game progressed. But, like good teams are prone to do, Davis refused to wave the white flag and instead staged a furious comeback…fueled in large part by the Lady Grizzlies’ inability to drain what most coaches would call “can’t miss” shots.
The Pirates, playing on their home floor, ended up taking their first lead of the game in the waning moments. After having squared the Big Nine contest at 48-all, Davis forced a turnover on Sunnyside’s end of the court. Junior Katie Fowler, who shared team-high scoring honors with two other teammates, raced down the floor on the ensuing breakaway and scored with a lay-in. With just four seconds remaining, trailing by two, Sunnyside was unable to respond and fell, 50-48.
“We had the lead the entire game,” said SHS Coach Rick Puente. “Until Fowler hit that shot with four seconds left.”
Sunnyside crept out to a 14-9 first-quarter lead on the Pirates, was up 28-23 at the half and took a 42-34 advantage into the final period.
“Our game plan was working,” said Puente. “We were aggressive defensively, our press was creating turnovers and we were able to get out and run.
“We were executing our game plan to a tee,” he said.
The entire team was involved in pulling off what looked to be an upset of the conference leaders. Point-wise, senior Vanessa Alvarez and junior Jordan Rodriguez led the way with 11 points apiece. Natalia Bazan, Emilee Maldonado and Tiana Perez contributed mightily, as well, each popping in 8 points.
Perez also crashed the boards for a team-high six rebounds, while freshman Jessica Mendoza was the catalyst in getting Davis to cough up the ball. The underclassman came away with a game-high five steals.
As dominating as Sunnyside was, the Lady Grizzlies should have had a bigger cushion than the eight-point lead they took into the final quarter. Simply put, Sunnyside couldn’t buy a bucket from up-close.
“Yeah, we had a lot of miscues,” said Puente, referencing the numerous putbacks from right under the rim, as well as lay-ups – some barely contested - that wouldn’t fall.
“We only went 12-for-33 from the paint,” Puente said. “I don’t know if it’s due to pressure or what…
“I wish I had an answer,” he said.
Overall, Sunnyside shot at a 32 percent clip from the field (18-for-57).
Davis, on the other hand, made 56 percent of its field goal attempts (19-for-34). Fowler, 5-10 post player Jennifer Morales and 5-3 guard Alexis Gratton each poured in 9 points. Alexis Perez and Sydni Billups each added 8-point efforts for the Pirates.
Davis now has a 5-1 league record.
Sunnyside opened weekend play last Friday by crushing winless Eastmont, 71-21. A 24-1 second-quarter scoring splurge gave the visiting Lady Grizzlies a 41-7 halftime lead. From there, Sunnyside coasted to the 50-point margin of victory.
Four Sunnyside players scored in double figures on the Eastmont hardwood – Selena Rubalcava with a game-high 14 points, Maldonado and Rodriguez with 11 apiece, and Perez with 10 points.
Alvarez, the lone senior on the Sunnyside roster, pushed in just 4 points, but tallied team highs of four rebounds and eight steals.
Sunnyside, now tied with Moses Lake for the No. 2 spot in the Big Nine League standings with identical conference marks of 4-2, will play at Wenatchee (3-3) this coming Friday. The following night the Lady Grizzlies will host Eisenhower (2-4).
Sunnyside 14 14 14 6 -48
Davis 9 14 11 16 -50
2-PT FG – Sunnyside 15/45, Davis 15/28. 3-PT FG – Sunnyside 3/12 (Perez 1, Maldonado 1, Rodriguez 1), Davis 4/6 (Gratton 2, Greene 1, Fowler 1). FT – Sunnyside 9/16, Davis 8/11. RBD – Sunnyside 16 (Perez 6), Davis 19 (Morales 7). TO – Sunnyside 11, Davis 12.
Sunnyside – Alvarez 11, Rodriguez 11, Bazan 8, Rubalcava 2, Maldonado 8, Perez 8
Davis – Greene 7, Gratton 9, Perez 8, Billups 8, Fowler 9, Morales 9
Sunnyside 17 24 17 13 -71
Eastmont 6 1 6 8 -21
2-PT FG – Sunnyside 23/42, Eastmont 7/36. 3-PT FG - Sunnyside 4/14 (Rodriguez 2), Eastmont 1/2. FT – Sunnyside 13/17, Eastmont 4/12. RBD – Sunnyside 19 (Al-varez 4), Eastmont 16. TO – Sunnyside 15, Eastmont 31.
Sunnyside – Herrera 1, Alvarez 4, Hazzard 2, Lua 6, Trevino 1, Bazan 5, Rubalcava 14, Maldonado 11, Mendoza 6, Rodriguez 11, Perez 10
Eastmont – Booker 4, Schroeder 3, Boatwright 4, White 2, Donaldson 2, Jackson 2, Bokma 4