ZILLAH, Wash. — This is certainly not Sunnyside Christian’s deepest girls team, and Friday it was not its healthiest.
But the Knights, who have learned to play through their limitations this season, have one important thing in common with many of the school’s past squads — they’re district champions and rolling toward another state berth.
Behind a huge game from Stormee Van Belle and a stingy defense, undefeated Sunnyside Christian overcame illness and a rough shooting night to roll past Yakama Tribal 66-21 to capture the Greater Columbia 1B district championship Friday night at Zillah Middle School.
“We have a lot of heart and hustle,” said senior Kara den Hoed, one of just seven available players Friday, with several of those still battling the flu. “We work well together and this win was a total team effort.”
“The numbers we have are few but the girls we have really enjoy playing the game of basketball,” said Knights coach Al Smeenk, whose second-ranked team improved to 23-0 and advances to the Class 1B regionals. “They enjoy playing together and they work extremely hard.”
That was on full display Friday as Sunnyside Christian, despite its struggles, ultimately had little trouble getting past a hard-working Yakama Tribal team.
Van Belle, a junior, led the way at both ends of the floor, collecting game-high totals of 18 points and 20 rebounds.
But she was not alone.
Annie Brouwer added 15 points, den Hoed 12 points and six rebounds, and freshman Katelyn Banks 11 points. Also, Brittany Broersma grabbed eight rebounds and Rita Dalrymple, the only other senior besides den Hoed, had seven.
“I feel we’re in pretty good shape (physically),” said Smeenk, adding that conditioning has helped his team persevere through its recent run of illness.
“This was a lot better than last week,” den Hoed said of the team’s health, “and we just came out ready to play hard tonight.”
That showed as Sunnyside Christian worked through an early funk to quickly take control despite shooting just 33 percent (24 of 73) for the game.
“We’re usually a better shooting team but the team played hard and worked through it,” Smeenk said.
Yakama Tribal took an early 3-2 lead but the Knights closed the quarter on a 16-2 burst, with four different players scoring in that run, and carried it over into the second quarter, scoring 20 of the first 22 points. They carried their momentum into the second period in building a 38-8 halftime advantage.
Den Hoed led the Knights’ big first half with 10 points, with Van Belle and Brouwer scoring nine each.
While its offense sputtered, the Knights were consistently stout on defense, allowing the Eagles just six field goals in the game and holding them to 12-percent shooting, including 1 of 22 on 3-pointers.
Despite the loss, Yakama Tribal still has a chance to reach regionals. The Eagles will play Wishkah Valley on Tuesday at Elma High School in a loser-out contest.
“We just told the girls to let this one go,” Yakama Tribal coach Sharon Johnson said. “We’ve gotten this far because we’ve played good basketball and we still have a chance to move on.”
YAKAMA TRIBAL — Selam 0, Wahtomy 0, Lynndel Wapsheli 12, Billy 0, A. Wapsheli 2, Heath 5, Marquez 0, Belly 2, Tupuola 0. Totals 6-50 8-12 21.
SUNNYSIDE CHRISTIAN — Annie Brouwer 15, M. Dalrymple 2, Kara den Hoed 12, Katelyn Banks 11, Broersma 6, Stormee Van Belle 18, R. Dalrymple 2. Totals 24-73 15-19 66.
Yakama Tribal 5 3 9 4 — 21
Sunnyside Christian 18 20 14 14 — 66
3-Point goals—Yakama Tribal 1-22 (L. Wapsheli 1-10, Belly 0-5, A. Wapsheli 1-7), Sunnyside Christian 3-9 (den Hoed 2-4, Brouwer 1-2, Banks 0-3). Total fouls—Yakama Tribal 14, Sunnyside Christian 11. Fouled out—None. Rebounds—Yakama Tribal 38 (L. Wapsheli 6, Starla Marquez 6, Melanie Belly 6), Sunnyside Christian 58 (Van Belle 20, Brittany Broersma 8, Rita Dalrymple 7, den Hoed 6, Melissa Dalrymple 5). Turnovers—Yakama Tribal 22, Sunnyside Christian 11. Steals—Yakama Tribal 2, Sunnyside Christian 12.