The contrast in styles was stark. Neah Bay likes to get up and go. Sunnyside Christian prefers to take its time.
Chalk up another for the tortoise over the hare. The Knights put on a first-half clinic on tempo control and held off the Red Devils 44-36 for their eighth state championship and fifth as a Class 1B school.
For the better part of three quarters the Red Devils’ get-up-and-go style simply got up and went. Sunnyside Christian, which dictated the pace in a couple of significant ways, limited a high octane offense to just 10 first-half points and led 30-12 three minutes into the third quarter.
Once the afterburners kicked in it didn’t take long for the 18-point lead to disappear. Neah Bay scored 10 points in fewer than two minutes, got within a basket with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left in the game and had a chance for the tie following a Knights turnover.
The points didn’t materialize and the Red Devils never scored again. Brandon Broersma hit four pressure-packed free throws in the final 47 seconds to pad the lead.
Rookie coach Brian Bosma said, that before the game he put a list of what the team had to accomplish. “The last thing was ‘CONTROL THE PACE.’ Bold letters, highlighted, underlined. And when we went into the locker room at the half I erased everything else and said ‘Control – The – Pace.’ When it turned into their pace, look how fast they came back.”
The Knights righted the ship just in time.
Keys to the victory besides patience on offense and a defense that took away Neah Bay’s fast-break opportunities were the ball-handling ability of guards Alex Brouwer and Brant Bosma – Brian’s nephew – and the inside presence of 6-foot-7 Broersma.
The guards were able to fend off Neah Bay’s defensive swarm. “They really handled things out front tonight,” Brian Bosma said.
“We knew they had quick hands and needed to control the tempo of the game to get into our sets and run the plays we know how to run,” said his nephew, who blossomed as the season went on.
Brouwer added a game-high 13 points and had seven rebounds.
Broersma flustered a team that likes slashing to the basket and crashing the boards.
He blocked a tournament record 11 shots and hauled down 13 defensive rebounds.
The night before he was 0 for 12 from the field and 2 for 7 at the line. This game he scored 12 points to go with his defensive dominance to stave off the Red Devils.
“That’s just the way we’ve played all year,” Broersma said. “It was the final game and you have nothing to lose.”
All told, Sunnyside Christian had a 40-29 rebounding edge. Neah Bay shot just 22.2 percent from the field a night after lighting up the scoreboard.
“It’s exciting,” Brian Bosma said of his first championship. “I love to see the joy on the kids’ faces and the fans that show up and support us. It’s just an awesome feeling.”