Skip to main content

Sunnyside Christian knocks off defending champion Cusick for Class 1B regional victory

Senior Cole Wagenaar puts team on his back with 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead Knights past defending champion Cusick
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

RICHLAND, Wash. — There was no revenge factor involved for the Sunnyside Christian boys basketball team in beating Cusick on Saturday.

It didn’t matter that Cusick, the defending state 1B champion, had knocked the Knights out of the winner’s bracket semifinals in 2022, en route to earning that title.

Nope, it was all about now.

And SSC head coach Dean Wagenaar, while watching his team beat the Panthers 56-45, is looking for his Knights to give the school a 10th state championship.

“And this is the 24th straight year we’ve gone to state. I wanted so much to go to state with this group,” Wagenaar said.

A state title would be the perfect ending for Wagenaar, as he says he’s done coaching when the season ends.

“This is it for me,” he said. “The superintendent, some others have said they’d chain me to the bench if they had to. I’m still the principal at the school. I’m just going to be done with coaching.”

So it’s pretty cool that he gets to make this run with his youngest son, Cole Wagenaar.

The senior forward scored a team-high 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished off three assists in the win. Things are looking good for the Knights, who came into the tournament seeded No. 2 and now boast a 20-4 record.

“We’re getting farther than we thought we would,” admitted Cole Wagenaar. “We were worried about (Cusick’s) quickness. But our press did pretty well, too.”

Indeed it did.

And the key was the third quarter, when SSC outscored Cusick 16-2.

“We hit a lot of shots in the third quarter, and we got a lot of stops,” Cole Wagenaar said. “We got in their face better.”

Cole Wagenaar scored seven points in that quarter and Isaac De Boer added five points.

The Panthers shot a dismal 11% (1-for-9) from the floor, and turned the ball over seven times that SSC turned into seven points.

It was 28-22 SSC at halftime. When the fourth quarter began, the Knights led 44-24.

Dean Wagenaar agreed that the third quarter was key.

“In the third quarter, we made good adjustments defensively,” he said. “And we settled down offensively. I told them we’ve gotta wait, and probe, probe, probe. This year, we’ve been more consistent as an outside shooting team.”

But there is a reason Dean Wagenaar has more than 500 coaching victories.

“I’m very competitive,” he said. “I’m very frustrated with some of the inconsistencies we had. We didn’t box out. Just some fundamental things we didn’t do. Cusick played better offensively. And credit to them that they were playing a good 1-2-2 zone.”

De Boer finished with 11 points for Sunnyside Christian, while teammate Buddy Smeenk added 10.

Junior Bode Seymour had an outstanding game for Cusick, now 18-5, scoring a game-high 25 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing off 6 assists.

Cusick, like Sunnyside Christian, will advance to the Spokane Arena next week.

The Panthers will play Mount Vernon Christian at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in a loser-out contest.

The Knights will play in the quarterfinals at 9 p.m. Thursday, against Wednesday’s winner of the Orcas Island-Oakville contest.