KENNEWICK -- Three weeks into January, things were not looking good for the Southridge boys basketball team.
A 61-37 home loss to Kamiakin was the Suns' eighth loss in nine games, and their playoff hopes were starting to slip away. A year after making their third state appearance, the thought of not making the playoffs at all was all but unbearable.
"We were in bad shape at that point," Southridge coach Jason DeVere said. "Nobody wants to be there. But if you're there, it's a test of your character. What are you going to do?"
With their backs against the wall, the Suns responded by winning three of their last four games, including a dramatic 77-75 double-overtime home win over Eastmont on Tuesday. The run included a scrappy 54-53 road win at Sunnyside on Jan. 23 and then a 56-53 home win against Hanford.
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Southridge almost made it four in a row if not for a 60-57 overtime loss at Pasco last Friday.
"The last two weeks we've just been fighting as hard as we could to get back into it," DeVere said.
The win over Eastmont was a huge boost. Three-year starter Matt Mendenhall led all scorers with 25 points, but the Suns' also got inspired performances from David Mazzei (career-high 21 points) and Garrett Willard (drawing two charging fouls).
Southridge (6-12, 4-8 CBBN 3A) has two road games remaining at Kennewick and at West Valley. The Suns will have a tough time winning in those two gyms, but Sunnyside won't have an easy go of it either.
The Grizzlies (8-10, 3-9), which trail Southridge by a game, need one win in their final two games -- at Pasco and at Kamiakin -- to force a tiebreaker.
Eastmont can clinch a playoff spot with a win in its final two games. The Wildcats (7-11, 4-8) play host to West Valley and Kennewick this weekend.