Basketball: Sunnyside girls win to take 4th

March 8, 2014 

State Basketball

(From left to right) Sunnyside's Emilee Maldonado, Vanessa Alvarez, Tiana Perez and Jessica Mendoza hug as they wait to receive the 4th place trophy at the 3A Girls State Basketball Tournament on Saturday, March 8, 2014 in Tacoma, Wash. Sunnyside defeated University 56-42 to take 4th place. (Photo by Patrick Hagerty)

PATRICK HAGERTY — Patrick Hagerty

— A mixup with Tacoma Dome staff meant Sunnyside was late coming out of the lockerroom at halftime Saturday.

The University High girls basketball team probably wishes they would not have come out at all.

The Grizzlies used a huge third quarter to knock off the Titans 56-42 to finish fourth at the Class 3A state basketball tournament. It is the best finish in program history.

“The last 16 minutes of the season, we want to play our hearts out,” said Selena Rubalcava on what the team talked about at halftime. “We really wanted this win. It’s such a big thing for us. Best team in Sunnyside.”

The Grizzlies outscored the Titans 21-4 in the third quarter to erase a 27-25 halftime deficit.

“The first half started out really slow,” Sunnyside’s Natalia Bazan said. “We couldn’t get anything going, our defense wasn’t as tough as we wanted it to be. We knew if we wanted to win, we had to come out in the third quarter and play our hearts out, because we wanted fourth place.”

Under fourth-year head coach Rick Puente, the Grizzlies put together possibly the finest season in school history.

They set a record for most wins in a season, finishing 24-4. The fourth-place finish was the best ever, and the first trophy since 1991 when they finished sixth. And to top it off, the team only has one senior — Vanessa Alvarez — so should be plenty loaded next year as well.

“It’s amazing, amazing,” Puente said. “Just a rollercoaster of emotions. You are happy, but sad because one of the seniors is leaving us. What an amazing feeling. It’s all because of those 12 girls in there. Definitely.”

The teams traded 10-0 runs in the first half which led to University’s 27-25 lead, but the Grizzlies got hot at the right time.

They opened the third with a 13-0 run as Emilee Maldonado, Alvarez and Bazan all made layups, Bazan added a free throw, Alvarez hit a 3-pointer and Rubalcava capped it with a layup.

After a pair of free throws by the Titans, Sunnyside quickly ran off six more points.

“That’s probably not the team you want to play on the last day of the tournament,” University coach Mark Stinson said. “They are real deep, know their roles, pressure you and get the ball up the floor. They have their great shooters, but also they have their good shooters to. It’s hard to cover everybody.

“Just a tough team to contend with and everybody has had that problem all year.”

Sunnyside was the CBBN co-champions with Class 4A state qualifier Moses Lake. This year also erased memories of five consecutive seasons with 19 losses, which included Puente’s first year at the helm.

But the stellar junior class of Rodriguez, Tiana Perez, Bazan and Rubalcava, combined with the steady hand of its lone senior, and strong play from freshman Maldonado and Mendoza made for a special season that culminated in possibly the best team in school history.

“I’m a big sports fan, so I hate to use the term ever because other teams don’t play each other,” Puente said about ranking this team in the pantheon of Sunnyside sports. “But record wise we are (the best), place we are (the best) and we’ll hang our hat on that for awhile.”

SUNNYSIDE — Mireya Herrera 0-0 0-0 0, Vanessa Alvarez 2-5 1-2 6, Summer Hazzard 0-0 0-0 0, Jazmine Lua 0-0 0-0 0, Jazel Trevino 0-0 0-0 0, Aubrey Isquierdo 0-0 0-0 0, Natalia Bazan 7-11 2-4 16, Selena Rubalcava 4-12 1-3 11, Emilee Maldonado 5-11 0-0 10, Jessica Mendoza 1-2 2-2 4, Jordan Rodriguez 3-8 0-0 7, Tiana Perez 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 22-50 8-13 56.

UNIVERSITY — Ashley Woods 4-9 6-6 14, Emma Kennedy 1-6 0-0 2, Kaitlin Pannell 1-5 0-0 2, Emily Terhaar 0-0 0-0 0, Sydney Weiler 0-0 0-0 0, Morgan Hawley 2-7 0-0 5, Kendall Collins 0-0 2-2 2, Brooke Bailey 1-5 1-2 3, Shelby Rotchford 1-4 2-2 4, McKenzie Peterson 3-7 0-0 8, Kylie Collins 0-3 2-2 2, Jessica Shill 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-46 13-15 42.

Sunnyside 13 12 21 10 — 56

University 13 14 4 11 — 42

3-point goals—Sunnyside 4-17 (Rubalcava 2-7, Alvarez 1-1, Rodriguez 1-3, Maldonado 0-5, Bazan 0-1), University 3-15 (Peterson 2-3, Hawley 1-4, Pannell 0-3, Rotchford 0-2, Collins 0-1, Bailey 0-1, Kennedy 0-1). Rebounds—Sunnyside 34 (Bazan 7), University 30 (Woods, Bailey 5). Turnovers—Sunnyside 16, University 19. Fouls—Sunnyside 13, University 14

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