Sunnyside Christian, quite frankly, would love if you were bored watching them.
The Knights squeeze every second out of every possession until an opening appears, at which point SC attacks relentlessly.
In the first quarter of their 51-39 win over King’s West, SC was the model of efficiency, scoring on seven of nine possessions to take an 18-5 lead, and the Knights weathered a late KW run to earn a trip to the State B championship game.
“We come out with a plan,” SC head coach Dean Wagenaar said. “Either you execute the plan and if you’re not making the shots, you’re just more patient. If you make the shots, then you give them a little more rope.”
SC opened the game with two buckets by Jordan Haak inside, and one possession later, Chad Den Boer hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The Knights’ Andrew Schutt followed that with a 3-pointer from the right wing, and with 3:40 left in the first quarter, SC was up 10-0.
KW got two free throws, and Den Boer followed with another 3. With less than a minute remaining, Matthew Haak drained a 3-pointer for a 16-5 lead. On SC’s final possession of the half, Jordan Haak showed his tirelessness, tipping in his own miss at the buzzer to put the Knights up 13.
“We have to be focused before our games,” said Jordan Haak, who led all scorers with 16 points. “We always say that we want to come out and score as quick and often as we can, because at the end of the game, we want to be more patient.”
KW was most effective when working the ball inside to 6-8 center Erik Bright, but too often, the Warriors would try to shoot around SC’s zone defense. KW’s 6-5 senior and leading scorer, Adam Shildmyer, was held to four points on 1-of-7 shooting. As a team, the Warriors were 5 of 17 on 3-pointers.
Despite lacking the athleticism and height of the Warriors, SC outrebounded KW 28-19, led by 6-1 senior guard Andrew Schutt, who pulled down 10 to go along with 10 points and five rebounds.
“We’re not the most athletic team,” Wagenaar said. “Shoot, I would hate to have jumping contests against some of these teams, they’d kill us. But you’ve got one ball between 10 kids. I think we’re just trying to keep the other team out of rhythm.”
SC has now won 21 straight since an 11-point loss to Riverside Christian.
“The loss to Riverside Christian, that game we looked like we were so scared,” Jordan Haak said. “Ever since then, we’ve just been taking it to them, with just as much energy as we can bring out there, because we know we can do well if we bring a lot of energy.”
This is the Knights’ second state title appearance in four years. In 2002, the Knights beat St. George’s 37-32 for the championship.
“I asked them a couple times today if they ever thought they would have this opportunity,” Wagenaar said. “They thought, ‘We hoped we’d do it, but we don’t know.’ “
SC plays Willapa Valley in the championship game tonight at the Arena at 9 p.m., and Valley has more height and athleticism than King’s West, one of the taller teams at the tournament.
“We’ve got our work cut out,” Wagenaar said. “They are an outstanding team. But everybody all week has said you’re playing great teams and we keep finding a way to handle it.”
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