YAKIMA — The good news is, Almira/Coulee-Hartline still has time to reboot. The bad news, the Warriors haven’t looked that shell-shocked in years.
No. 1 Sunnyside Christian used a full-court press so effective No. 8 ACH didn’t even get a shot off on six consecutive possessions in 55-36 loss to the Knights (23-1) in the regional round of the 1B state tournament Saturday night at Eisenhower High School.
Sunnyside will move to the top half of the eight-team bracket and play its first on Thursday at the Spokane Arena. ACH (18-6) will have to regroup in a hurry. The Warriors play No.9 Taholah in one of Wednesday’s play-in games.
The Sunnyside press created 15 ACH first-half turnovers and 22 of the Knights first-half points 40 were scored off the turnover. The Warriors finished the night with 21 turnovers.
“Nobody can dribble through two or three guys and we hit panic mode trying to break it with the dribble instead of passing through it,” said ACH coach Graham Grindy, whose teams have finished second and third in the 1B Hardwood Classic the past two seasons. “Nobody likes to get smacked in the mouth like that. But if there’s a silver lining in all of this, we still get to play another day.
“We need to reboot, having seen what they do we can make the necessary adjustments for the Arena. We’ll get back in the gym and get this fixed for Wednesday.”
The No. 1 Knights will ride a 17-game winning streak into the Spokane Arena. On Saturday, their pressure defense was so mind-boggling, the Warriors had eight first-quarter turnovers just trying to bring the ball up the floor and committed seven more in the second quarter. ACH trailed 13-4 at one point and 36-12 on another.
If the top half wasn’t picking the pocket of the Warrior ball-handlers trying to dribble through the trap, the back end floated like sharks, intercepting errant passes to start their own break.
The Warriors never led and trailed 40-16 at the intermission in one that got away early.
“Teams don’t always adjust when we get it going. We do a little bit of man and a little bit zone,” said Sunnyside senior Luke Wagenaar, who finished with 15 points.
“We just feed off the turnovers,” Lane Marsh said. “When we get the turnover he actually gets a 10 percent burst of energy. Once we get it going, we can be tough.”
The press was better than Red Bull and the Knights looked like the No. 1 team in the state. Kyler Marsh had 14 of his 16 points in the first half. Wagenaar had 10 at the half and finished with 15. Lucas Dykstra also scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half.
For the Warriors, it was tough sledding. Payton Nielsen had a team-high four points in the first half and Maguire Isaak had just two at the intermission. Nielsen finished with 11. Isaak and Chase Gerard had six apiece.
Almira/Coulee-Hartline goes into the tournament on the same side of the bracket as No. 2 Muckleshoot Tribal, which beat Tacoma Baptist 76-68.
ACH 9 7 14 6 - 36
Sunnyside 19 21 8 7 - 55
ACH - Hayden Loomis 1, Chase Gerard 6, Maguire Isaak 6, Gage Burchill 5, Reece Isaak 4, Timmy Hahn 3, Payton Nielsen 11. Totals: 10 7-15 36
Sunnyside - Cade Bosma 5, Chance Marsh 2, Lane Marsh 4, Lucas Dykstra 13, Kyler Marsh 16, Luke Wagenaar 15. Totals: 17 6-7 55