SPOKANE Two area teams will square off for the fifth time this season, with one advancing to the state 1B Hardwood Classic title game.
In their previous four matchups, the disciplined Sunnyside Christian boys kept the scrappy Yakama Nation contained.
“We only have to beat them once,” Yakama Nation coach Greg Strom said after his Eagles outlasted Cedar Park Christian, 41-38, in one of today’s quarterfinals game.
The Eagles (21-5) enter the semifinals against league rival Sunnyside Christian (25-1) after the Knights dispatched the Tacoma Baptist, 65-42, in their quarterfinal game.
“We didn’t think about it (the semifinals) before,” Knights coach Dean Wagenaar said. “You have to earn the right to get their first.”
After the win, Wagenaar said his boys will be focusing on the fast-pace offense they expect out of the Eagles.
“They’re a familiar foe,” he said, noting he watched the first half of the Yakama Nation-Cedar Park Christian game. “They did exactly what we expected.”
Looking back on his team’s route of Tacoma Baptist, Wagenaar noted there were some things that happened that he “didn’t like,” but added he was confident in his team.
“We didn’t shoot well in the first half,” he said. “We came out and went 1 for 10 in the first half behind the 3-point line. When you don’t make any of those shots, you just don’t get rolling.”
Tacoma Baptist got on the board with a 3-pointer only seconds into the game. But the disciplined Knights kept their composure and quickly took the lead.
When the first quarter ended, they were up, 15-11. That was the closest the Crusaders would get to owning a quarter.
Sunnyside increased the margin by 8 in the second quarter and took a 31-20 lead to the lockerroom.
“We hurt them down low in the paint and Cade (Bosma) had a huge first half,” Wagenaar said. “We moved the ball very well.”
The Knights had a big third quarter, putting up 23 points, but allowing the Crusaders to score 19.
“We didn’t miss too many assignments,” Wagenaar said. “And we knew if we could keep it going and keep our energy going, we’d be OK.”
And they were.
Midway through the final period, Wagenaar put in his backup players and the Knights cruised to an easy, 65-42, win.
P.J. Talen had a double-double for Tacoma Baptist with his 18 total points and 11 rebounds. Teammate Joey Pascua added 11 points and 2 rebounds.
For the Knights, senior guard Chance Marsh also had a double-double, with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Bosma, a senior forward, posted the most points for Sunnyside Christian with 17.
Knights teammates senior guard Lane Marsh added 12 points and senior guard Luke Wagenaar 11.
Others scoring for the Knights included junior guard Kyler Marsh, 5; and junior guards Rip Brennan and Ross Faber with 2 each.
Yakama Nation’s victory was a little harder to come by.
But the scrappy Eagles felled the tall Cedar Park Christian Lions from Mount Lake Terrace after wearing them down.
“We wanted to get into their heads early,” coach Strom said. “Our goal was to break them in the third quarter.”
The game didn’t start out that way, as the Lions took a 10-8 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles’ full-court press, however, wore the lanky Lions down in the second quarter. And the Eagles outscored their opponent, 16-11, to take a 24-21 lead into halftime.
“We had to get them up and down the floor,” Strom said, noting his team’s conditioning won the quarter, and likely the game.
“We’re tough, they’re tall,” he said. “We’re wide, they’re long.”
The Toppenish-based Yakama Nation owned the game from then on out.
In the third quarter, the Eagles increased the margin by 4 points. And in the final quarter, Strom’s team took some time to breathe.
The Eagles slowed their pace and managed the ball, eating away as the clock ticked down. They allowed the Lions a few scores and avoided any fouls.
But they couldn’t close the gap before time expired, with a final score of 41-38.
“We wanted to bring them 32 minutes of misery,” Strom said, crediting the Lions’ Erwin Weary and Jaide St. Lewis for outstanding play.
“That No. 25, he was a beast,” Strom said. “We had to keep a body on him the whole game; he was a tough kid.”
St. Lewis had a double-double, with 13 points and 10 rebounds. His teammates, Jocab Caety and Weary each added 9 points.
For the Eagles, Bryan Strom led the fast-pace offense, putting up 12 points. Teammate Bryce Strom added 8 more, and Isiah Strom and Justin Andrews each posted 6.
Justin Strom scored 5 points and Noah Pastrana added 4.
The coach said all of his players deserve equal recognition.
“The whole team, they stick together,” he said.
He also thanked Yakama Nation fans for their devotion.
“They’ve been a big part of this, so far,” he said.
Tipoff for the Knights-Eagles semifinal game is at 3:45 p.m. Friday, March 2, in Spokane Veteran Memorial Arena.
The winner will play for the state title Saturday night. The loser will move to the consolation game for third-place.