Anyone hoping Sunnyside Christian’s run of consecutive state titles would end at two might be suffering a case of wishful thinking.
The two-time defending champions displayed an unselfish brand of basketball that proved too balanced for Odessa to overcome in a 66-49 quarterfinal victory Thursday night at the State 1B basketball tournament at Spokane Arena.
The Knights, who had played one game in the previous three weeks because of cancellations resulting from recent heavy snowfall, looked sharp from the opening tip and advanced to play Muckleshoot Tribal in Friday’s semifinals at 7:15 p.m.
“Very good teams have to have the right pieces,” Sunnyside Christian coach Dean Wagenaar said. “I’ll be very honest. I’m very pleasantly surprised with how well we’ve done.”
Wagenaar said he was unsure if he wanted to return to coach this year’s edition of the Knights after his son, Luke, graduated last spring. He elected to return only after his players proved to him over the summer that they were ready to make another run at a state title.
“People are realistic,” Wagenaar said of the self-imposed expectations for his program. “Maybe some people here in Spokane know we graduated four kids and thought we would take a step back.”
Perhaps, but that step backward was not going to happen Thursday night.
The Knights (24-1) blitzed Odessa with the game’s first eight points, six on Kyler Marsh 3-pointers.
Marsh hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter en route to a 22-11 edge, and he added another in the second quarter to help the Knights hang on to a 29-25 lead at halftime.
“Usually, I look to shoot first, and I was open,” said Marsh, who scored a game-high 22 points. “I was shooting, and they were falling.”
“Kyler, when he gets going early, it relaxes us,” Wagenaar said. “It opened up a few more gaps (in the defense) and took them out of their zone.”
Odessa’s Ryan Moffet set an individual game scoring record with 48 points in the Tigers’ opening-round win over Neah Bay on Wednesday. He paced the Tigers (23-3) with 19 points against Sunnyside Christian, but he didn’t have the same opportunities to exploit against a constantly switching Knights defense that double-teamed him all over the court.
“We were very prepared,” Wagenaar said.
Moffet’s 3-pointer 45 seconds into the second half pulled Odessa within 32-28, but Ross Faber scored nine of his 17 points in a 16-2 spurt over the next 6-plus minutes that put the Knights well in front for the remainder of the contest.
Faber also grabbed eight rebounds. Brennan Rip added 12 points and five rebounds for the Knights.
Marcus King scored 17 points for the Tigers.
Odessa plays Riverside Christian in a loser-out game on Friday at 12:15 p.m.
Muckleshoot Tribal 67, Riverside Christian 56
Kash Nichols scored 20 points with seven rebounds and the fifth-seeded Kings (24-3) defeated the 11th-seeded Crusaders (18-6).
Levi Rivera led Riverside Christian with 21 points and nine rebounds. Ryan Thompson added 13 points with 10 assists for Muckleshoot Tribal.
Riverside Christian trailed by three heading into the fourth quarter before Muckleshoot Tribal outscored the Crusaders 20-12.
Yakama Tribal 62, Oakesdale 45
Bryan Strom scored 18 points with a team-high five rebounds and the sixth-seeded Eagles (18-8) beat the 12th-seeded Nighthawks (17-8).
Kieron Anderson led Oakesdale with 22 points and seven rebounds. Mylo Jones added 13 points for Yakama Tribal.
Almira/Coulee-Hartline 54, Naselle 37
Reece Isaak scored 16 points and the seventh-seeded Warriors (20-4) defeated the eighth-seeded Comets (18-7).
Jacob Eaton led Naselle with 14 points.
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