Because they don’t dwell on the past, the Sunnyside Christian Knights made some history Saturday night.
That includes last year, last week and the last five minutes.
The reward was their second straight 1B boys title and 10th overall, earned with a 69-61 double-overtime win over Almira/Coulee-Hartline at the Spokane Arena.
Even after winning last year and returning four seniors, the Knights took nothing for granted this season.
“We worked so hard during the offseason to get back here,” said Luke Wagenaar, one of the returning seniors.
Powering through the season with just one loss, they rolled through the playoffs and punched their ticket to state with a 55-36 romp over ACH – the same team they faced on Saturday.
“We expected it was going to be tough,” Sunnyside Christian coach Dean Wagenaar said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be like last time.”
And it wasn’t. Underdog ACH, which shocked Pomeroy with an amazing comeback in Friday’s semifinals, almost did the same in the title game.
The Warriors (21-7) led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, but trailed by six with 15 seconds left in regulation.
Incredibly, they forced overtime. Maguire Isaak, who finished with 25 points, hit a long 3-pointer to halve the lead. After the Knights missed a free throw with just three seconds left, Payton Nielsen emerged with a loose ball, reached the top of the key and heaved a prayer.
He missed, but the Knights were whistled for a foul with three-tenths of a second left.
With the Sunnyside crowd at full roar, Nielsen hit all three.
Once again it was time for the Knights to forget the past.
“As soon as it goes to overtime, I just tell them to forget whatever happened,” Dean Wagenaar said. “We just wanted to maximize every possession.”
Mostly, the Knights left things to Chance.
Senior guard Chance Marsh made a living by driving the lane, finishing with a game-high 30 points on 12-for-18 shooting. Marsh got the Knights back in the game in the third quarter and gave them the upper hand in the overtimes.
The Knights’ poor foul shooting – they finished 16-for-26 from the line – allowed ACH to get back in the game in the first OT. In fact, Isaak almost won the game at the buzzer with a 30-footer that was inches short.
Sunnyside Christian (26-1) finally took control late in the second overtime, as ACH was just 1 for 7 from the field.
The play of the game was a short jumper from Chance Marsh that bounced twice off the iron before settling into the net.
That gave the Knights a 65-61 lead with 42 seconds left. Wagenaar iced the game with three free throws in the final seconds.
Perhaps showing the effects of a frantic finish in the semifinals against Pomeroy, the Warriors struggled out of the gate.
Sunnyside cashed in a pair of turnovers and hit a pair of 3-pointers to take a 13-4 lead and force ACH coach Graham Grindy to call a timeout.
It worked. After missing their first four shots, the Warriors went 11-for-19 the rest of the half, including 6 out of 12 from long range.
ACH still trailed 21-16 early in the second quarter before Isaak and Hayden Loomis got untracked; each had a trio of 3-pointers in the first half.
Isaak’s trey in the final minute game ACH a 28-25 halftime lead.