TACOMA The Sunnyside girls basketball locker room was full of tears Friday.
But it wasnt because the Grizzlies were lamenting a loss, rather because they had locked up the best season for the program since 1991 with a 67-54 victory over Lincoln in a Class 3A state tournament elimination game at the Tacoma Dome.
It is unbelievable to be the team that gets to go this far, Sunnysides Jordan Rodriguez said. After all the people have doubted us since I was a freshman, saying Oh, Sunnyside has never been good. Now look at us. We are at state and could possibly be the best team in Sunnyside thats ever been.
The Grizzlies (23-4) will play University (11-15) at 9:30 a.m. Saturday for fourth place. The loser gets sixth place. The Grizzlies havent been at state since 2002 and havent brought home a trophy since taking sixth in 1991.
We have the opportunity to go and get some hardware, Sunnyside coach Rick Puente said. That was our last goal, to come home with a trophy, and we did that.
To top it off, Sunnyside returns all but one player from this team. The Grizzlies start a freshman and another sees significant playing time.
Its a great feeling. Ive always wanted to experience it, said Emilee Maldonado, a freshman. Now that Im here, its amazing.
The team goals werent the only thing met Friday. Rodriguez passed the 1,000-point mark with a layup in the first quarter. She is at least the fourth girl in school history to reach the plateau.
Ever since I was little, I wanted to get my 1,000 points and I wanted to do it my junior year, Rodriguez said. I got it at the end of my junior year, which is even more exciting.
The Grizzlies jumped on Lincoln from the start of the game, giving the Metro League school fits with their defense.
Sunnyside forced six turnovers in the first quarter and used a 13-3 run to close the first eight minutes to take a 22-12 lead. Lincoln pulled within 22-20 early in the second quarter, but the Grizzlies responded with a 9-2 run and were rarely challenged the rest of the afternoon.
We just got back to our old selves, Puente said. We got back to playing the team ball, sharing and distributing the ball. There were some times where we did some good things (Thursday), but (Friday) we did them for the entire game. That was the big ticket here.
The Grizzlies also featured a balanced scoring effort Friday, something that was lacking a bit Thursday.
Maldonado had a team-high 19 points, Natalia Bazan added 18 and Rodriguez had 14 points and 13 rebounds. The lone senior Vanessa Alvarez added seven points.
We have some girls who can fill it up, Puente said, but they play very, very unselfish. They really bought into the team concept. Im glad that we got here. Im glad that they achieved that victory the way they did as an overall team effort.
LINCOLN Kiara Thomas 1-7 1-2 3, Amira Turner 1-8 1-2 3, Breneya Johnson 6-10 1-5 13, Isis Amen 0-1 0-0 0, Donaisiah Brooks 0-0 0-0 0, Aaqula Turner 1-5 0-0 2, Kayla McLean 0-0 2-2 2, Joy Failauga 1-4 0-0 3, Charity Talo 0-0 0-0 0, Victoria Mukisa 0-0 0-0 0, Jasmine Mamea 1-2 1-3 3, Tamia Braggs 8-16 9-10 54. Totals 19-53 15-24 54.
SUNNYSIDE Mireya Herrera 0-0 0-0 0, Vanessa Alvarez 1-4 5-7 7, Summer Hazzard 0-0 0-0 0, Jasmine Lua 0-2 0-0 0, Jazel Trevino 0-0 1-2 1, Aubrey Isquierdo 0-0 0-0 0, Natalia Bazan 8-10 0-0 18, Selena Rubalcava 1-11 3-4 5, Emilee Maldonado 4-10 8-10 19, Jessica Mendoza 1-7 1-4 3, Jordan Rodriguez 5-16 2-2 14. Totals 20-60 20-29 67.
Lincoln 12 14 12 16 54
Sunnyside 22 16 9 20 67
3-point goalsLincoln 1-3 (Failauga 1-1, Turner 0-2), Sunnyside 7-15 (Maldonado 3-4, Rodriguez 2-5, Bazan 2-3, Alvarez 0-1, Rubalcava 0-1, Mendoza 0-1). ReboundsLincoln 45 (Johnson 9), Sunnyside 40 (Rodriguez 13). AssistsLincoln 10 (Thomas 7), Sunnyside 8 (Rodriguez 3). TurnoversLincoln 21, Sunnyside 10. FoulsLincoln 22, Sunnyside 20.