Kyler Marsh’s fateful decision to turn out for basketball three years ago never would have come to fruition if not for his brothers’ peer pressure.
“I liked football more,” Marsh said.
Marsh’s reluctance seems silly now, especially after the Sunnyside Christian senior scored a team-high 17 points in the Knights’ 54-45 championship victory over Yakama Tribal in the State 1B boys basketball tournament on Saturday.
Sunnyside Christian has won three consecutive championships, sending Marsh and the team’s other three seniors out on the highest of notes.
“This is something else,” Marsh said, clutching in his right hand a piece of the net he had just snipped off the rim as a keepsake. “It’s an incredible feeling. … There is no way I could’ve envisioned this.”
Knights coach Dean Wagenaar described Marsh as “unique” in that his demeanor masks the competitor that lies within.
“I used to tell if someone was ready to play by their body language,” Wagenaar said. “Kyler blew up that paradigm. The closer he is to asleep in the locker room, the better he’ll play.”
Marsh finished with five 3-pointers, the last of which gave Sunnyside Christian a 43-38 lead with a little more than 6 minutes left in the game. Bode Jansen added a pair of important buckets before Lucas Dykstra polished off the win with the Knights’ final seven points in the last 3 minutes.
Dykstra finished with 14 points. Teammate Ross Faber scored all 10 of his points before halftime and added a game-high 13 rebounds. Faber, Dykstra and Brennan Rip, who had six points and seven rebounds, are the team’s other seniors.
Yakama Tribal cousins Bryce Strom (22 points) and Bryan Strom (11 points) carried the Eagles, much as they have throughout the tournament. The two combined for 12 points in the opening quarter, which ended with Yakama Tribal leading 14-11.
Bryce Strom, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, set the tone for his teammates and generated offense on 10-for-18 shooting from the floor. He scored five points during a 7-0 run to end the third quarter that pulled the Eagles within 40-38.
Yakama Tribal (20-5) was the only team to defeat the Knights (25-1) during the regular season, but Sunnyside Christian won the final three meetings. Wagenaar said the two district rivals have played 24 times in the last six years.
“They have made us so much better because they play so hard,” Wagenaar said.
Odessa 63, Oakesdale 45: Ryan Moffet scored 27 points and the second-seeded Tigers (25-3) beat the 12th-seeded Nighthawks (18-9) in the fourth-place game.
Moffet accumulated 123 points over the tournament, setting a tournament record. His 30.7 points per game average also set a record.
Marcus King added 12 points for Odessa and Tim DeWulf had 10 points with a game-high nine rebounds.
Kieron Anderson led Oakesdale with 16 points and Evan Henning added another 10.
Odessa shot 48 percent from the field and limited Oakesdale to 38 percent. The Tigers also did well from the free-throw line. They were 14 for 17 while the Nighthawks were 4 for 9.
Muckleshoot Tribal 68, Almira/Coulee-Hartline 44: Kash Nichols scored 20 points with five rebounds and the fifth-seeded Kings (25-4) beat the seventh-seeded Warriors (20-6) in the third-place game.
Maguire Isaak led Almira/Coulee-Hartline with 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting. Darius Nichols added 16 points with 10 rebounds and four steals for Muckleshoot Tribal.
The Kings were in control from the start, scoring 24 points in the first quarter. Muckleshoot Tribal outrebounded ACH 41-21.
The Kings shot almost 50 percent (26 for 53) from the field while holding the Warriors to 31 percent. ACH shot just 5 for 28 on 3-pointers.