Entertaining – with a capital ‘E’. That’s one way to describe last night’s match-up between the Yakama Tribal and Sunnyside Christian boys basketball teams.
Those who trekked to the packed Sunnyside gym Tuesday evening got their money’s worth. The two Greater Columbia 1B League clubs, both of which were opening conference play, put on a thrilling, back-and-forth show that didn’t disappoint.
In the end it was the host Knights who persevered, emerging with a hard fought 76-66 victory.
The turning point came just as the game was transitioning from the third to the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 45-all, SCHS sophomore Justin Faber drilled a 3-pointer deep from the right corner just before the buzzer sounded to end the period.
Sunnyside Christian, seizing the momentum, added two more treys to open the final quarter. Those two bombs were launched by freshman Luke Wagenaar, and when the second one swished through the net the Knights were suddenly up 57-48.
“From there, we basically milked a 10-point lead,” Sunnyside Christian Coach Dean Wagenaar said in explaining the final 76-66 score.
The Knights, down the stretch, had to keep Yakama Tribal at bay from the free throw line, however.
“They were forced to foul us in the late going,” said Wagenaar. “We came up big – for us – from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. We made 9-of-12 shots.”
That translated into Sunnyside Christian outscoring the Eagles by a 28-21 margin in the final period.
Early on, though, it didn’t appear the Knights would have an opportunity for any late game heroics. Riding the hot shooting of Wapato transfer Isaiah Ellenwood, Yakama Tribal surged to a 23-15 first-quarter lead.
“The Ellenwood kid, he was the wild card,” said Wagenaar. “We didn’t know anything about him.
“He hit a couple of deep, step-back 3’s, as well as a couple of other incredible shots,” he said.
The Sunnyside Christian coach tried making a couple of defensive adjustments early on, on the fly, to slow down the Eagles, but nothing much was working towards that end.
The middle of the second quarter, Wagenaar finally had his club switch to playing a 2-3 match-up zone defense. He explained it’s designed to take away the other team’s passing lanes, as well as stop penetrations into the lane.
“But your guards still have to defend the three,” he said.
The ploy worked, as Yakama Tribal was held to just 10 second-quarter points. With the Knights – behind Nate Scheenstra and Darren Broersma – tossing in 18 that period, the two clubs went into the half knotted at 33-all.
Wagenaar went on to explain that it was his two big men, Scheenstra and Broersma, who turned the tide for the eventual winners last night.
“Those two, they did a great job,” Wagenaar said of the 6’6” Broersma and the 6’2” Scheenstra.
Together, the two seniors pumped in 35 points and scraped the glass for 35 rebounds.
Scheenstra led the way with 20 points and 19 boards, while Broersma tallied 15 points and 16 rebounds.
“Yakama Tribal, they were way quicker than us, but we had the height advantage,” said Wagenaar. “And with Darren and Nate living in the paint, coming through the way they did, that was the difference.”
Sunnyside Christian’s cause was aided, as well, by the double-digit scoring performances of Faber, Joel Martin and the freshman Wagenaar with 16, 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Ellenwood ended up as the game’s top scorer. He totaled 22 points, 14 of those coming in the first half. The Eagles also got double-digit scoring efforts from Isaiah Strom and Joseph Sanchey with 11 points apiece, and from Justin Strom with 10.
Sunnyside Christian (1-0, 5-2) continues league play with a game at Klickitat this coming Friday, and with a home contest the following night against Lyle-Wishram.