TACOMA, Wash. — Although the final outcome wasn’t what Sunnyside was hoping for, the Grizzlies’ final effort at the Class 4A girls state tournament was none the less a perfect showcase for what has driven the team since the first day of practice.
“I never question their heart, desire or work ethic,” coach Rick Puente said after Saturday’s 47-26 loss to top-ranked Central Valley in the game for fourth and sixth place.
“I was definitely happy with our effort,” he continued. “We didn’t play too bad but ... they walked away proud. I couldn’t be prouder or a happier coach.”
That Sunnyside wasn’t able to finish off one of its best seasons with a victory hardly mattered to Puente because his team didn’t settle for sixth place, they genuinely went out determined to try and claim fourth.
And while Sunnyside’s defense was stellar against Central Valley, not allowing more than 14 points in any quarter, the Grizzlies could never get their offense going, shooting 23 percent for the game (10 of 44).
“We had a lot of good looks, unfortunately the ball just wouldn’t fall,” he said, also praising Central Valley for contributing to those offensive struggles. “My hats off to them. They have a quality ball club. There’s a reason they won it last year and had only one loss this year.”
Emilee Maldonado was Sunnyside’s lone double-figures scorer with 12 points as the Grizzlies couldn’t keep up after the teams were tied 10-10 at the end of one quarter. They managed just three points in the second quarter and 13 in the second half.
But that was a minor setback in a 20-6 season, with Puente preferring to point to his team’s bounce back win Friday after a heartbreaking quarterfinal loss.
“That’s their character,” he said of a win over Camas that guaranteed Saturday’s trophy. “That’s the ultimate reflection of who they are. There’s always obstacles in the road. It’s how you deal with them that define you.
“I couldn’t be happier with this season.”
CENTRAL VALLEY — Simmelink 2, Carolan 0, Culton 0, Christopher 2, Lexie Hull 21, Laabs 0, Camryn Skaife 14, Hawkins 0, Crouch 2, La. Hull 4, Sams 0.
SUNNYSIDE — Garza 1, Garcia 0, Newhouse 0, Salmeron 2, A. Maldonado 4, Salinas 3, Emilee Maldonado 12, Mendoza 0, Skyles 4, Zavala 0.
Central Valley 10 11 14 12 — 47
Sunnyside 10 3 6 7 — 26
Highlights: E. Maldonado 7 reb, 2 stls; Le. Hull (CV) 8 reb.