Not much has been able to faze the Lady Knight hoopsters this year, but on the night of Coach Al Smeenk’s 600th victory, the Yakama Tribal Eagles had a lead over Sunnyside Christian at the half.
“We walked into the locker room behind at halftime, the first time all season,” said Smeenk. “We didn’t shoot very well in the first half. We were just 4-for-24 on field goals.”
Smeenk said his team knew what they had to do, but failed to execute until the third quarter. Even then, the Lady Knights trailed by as much as 10 points.
“We knew we had to take the ball inside, we had the height,” Smeenk said. “We had to stop trying for three-pointers.”
Lady Knight Stormee Van Belle, who led her team in scoring, was limited to five points in the first half. She finished the game with a respectable 17 points, along with 17 rebounds.
Both Annie Brouwer and Katelyn Banks dropped in 16 points each for Sunnyside Christian. Lady Knight Melissa Dalrymple added another 11 points.
“We just went back to what our strength was and worked harder on defense,” said Smeenk. “They have two girls that are very good, sisters, that shoot a lot of threes. I have to give them credit. They made a lot of tension for us.”
Despite trailing until the third quarter, the Lady Knights still managed a 70-47 victory. The game marked Smeenk’s 600th career win, a milestone that he downplayed.
“It just means that you’re getting older,” he said.
He also said that he never doubted his team could pull out the win.
“Even when we were down by 10, I wasn’t really nervous,” he said. “We hadn’t done what we talked about yet. I knew once we started to play by the plan, we could win. Sometimes it’s good to get behind. It makes the girls play harder.”
The Lady Knights returned home Saturday to beat Klickitat 76-27, a game that Smeenk felt was not very competitive.
“They only had six girls,” he said. “They had some injuries.”
Smeenk said that 20 of Klickitat’s eventual 27 points came in the final quarter of the game.
“I told my girls to play in the key,” said Smeenk. “It allowed Klickitat more chances at threes,” he explained in trying to make the score respectable.
Banks led the Lady Knights with 17 points. Brittany Broersma and Van Belle each bucketed another 13 points while Dalrymple tallied 12 more.
“A lot of the older girls didn’t play much in the second half,” said Smeenk. He said the result was more experience for his younger players and a more exciting game for the crowd.
Sunnyside Christian (3-0, 10-0) will be traveling to Bickleton tomorrow, Tuesday, then will play at Trout Lake and Lyle this coming Friday and Saturday.