It’s hard not going with what’s worked all season – it’s what got teams to the state basketball tournament in first place.
But falling into a pattern can hurt a team just as much if the opponent catches on to the game plan.
That's exactly what the Class 3A Sunnyside girls basketball team figured out against Lincoln on Friday at the Tacoma Dome.
The Grizzlies will advance to play for fourth-place after their 67-54 victory over the Abes in the Class 3A Hardwood Classic consolation round.
The win secures Sunnyside’s first state placement since 1991.
It was the Grizzlies (23-4) defense that caught on to what the Abes (19-8) were doing early in the first quarter. Sunnyside used a 22-6 run to close out the quarter behind the backcourt defense of Emilee Maldonado and Jordan Rodriguez.
“We worked hard…our defense is tough. Our defense is really tough,” Maldonado said. “We wanted to show that it’s not just about size. It’s about the heart…to be determined to play the defense we can.”
What the Grizzlies figured out about Lincoln was that Kiaira Thomas would bring the ball down the court then look for Tamia Braggs (25 points, 10 rebounds) down low. After the Abes 6-0 run to start the game, Sunnyside saw enough for Maldanado and Rodriguez to start playing the passing lanes to Braggs.
It worked out as Maldonado and Rodriguez knocked down one fast break shot after another to go on their big run.
Maldonado finished with team highs in points (19), three pointers (3 for 4) and free throws (8 for 10). Rodriguez finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.