Seniors on the Sunnyside High School girls basketball team started their high school careers with a fourth-place finish at the state tournament.
They’re now just one win away from ending their time at Sunnyside with a similar result after topping No. 8 Camas 45-34 on Wednesday in a Class 4A consolation game of the Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome.
No. 4 Sunnyside (20-4) will play No. 5 Central Valley at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the fourth/sixth-place game. The Bears beat the Grizzlies 63-49 in their state regional meeting.
Senior guard Emilee Maldonado led Sunnyside with 16 points, and her 4 of 7 performance from beyond the arc paced a Grizzlies outside shooting game that finally looked to play near its potential, as they went 7 of 19 (36.8 percent) from deep.
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Chastitee Garza knocked down both of her 3-point attempts and chipped in 10 points for Sunnyside.
But it was Sunnyside’s defense that stole the show, holding Camas to 22.7 percent shooting from the field and turning the Papermakers over 16 times.
Sunnyside gave up a lot of size in the post to Camas’ 6-1 forwards Madison Freemon and Courtney Clemmer. But the Grizzlies, scrappy as ever, never looked afraid to mix it up on the boards, and only lost the rebound battle 31-29. Clemmer and Freemon were held to 10 rebounds combined.
Sunnyside went on a 9-0 run to end the first quarter and a 7-0 burst that started early in the second. The runs were set up more by suffocating defense than anything else, as the Grizzlies held Camas scoreless in the last 6 minutes of the first quarter and over a 5:15 stretch in the second.
Sunnyside got the last possession of the first half, and missed a 3-point attempt, but pulled down its fourth offensive rebound in the first 16 minutes, and Ashley Maldonado got open at the free-throw line for a wide-open, buzzer-beater jumper to put the Grizzlies up 23-17.
The Griz didn’t really dominate the second half, but were no doubt in cruise control. Still shutting down the Camas offense, they went on a 17-4 run that lasted about 8 minutes of game time and ended with under 3 minutes to play and the Griz ahead 45-30.
Haley Hanson went 3 of 7 from 3-point range for all nine of her points to lead Camas (17-10), which has never placed in a state tournament.
SUNNYSIDE: Chastitee Garza 10, Dulm, Garcia, Newhouse, Salmeron 2, A.Maldonado 8, Salinas 3, Emilee Maldonado 16, Mendoza 2, Skyles 4, Valle, Zavala. Totals: 14-39 10-10 45.
CAMAS: Wilds 1, Finley 5, Webb, Schroeder 6, Haley Hanson 9, Booth, Payne, Wells, Jones 5, Freemon 4, Warren, Clemmer 4. Totals: 10-44 8-10 34.
Highlights — S, E.Maldonado 4x7 3pts; Garza 2x2 3 pts, 4x4 FTs; Ashlee Maldonado 4x4 FTs, 6 asts, 3 stls; Jessica Mendoza 4 asts, 3 stls.