SUNNYSIDE — After allowing 24 points and giving up their lead in the fourth quarter, the Panthers took care of business in overtime Friday against Sunnyside. They didn’t turn the ball over once, went 7-of-8 from the free throw line and came away with a much-needed 57-53 Big Nine victory.
Wenatchee (7-5 overall, 5-2 Big Nine) got back on the winning track in league play after suffering a two-point road loss last Saturday against Moses Lake. Even better, the victory should be a confidence boost going forward.
The Panthers were able to survive the Grizzlies’ second half scoring frenzy — despite lackluster play at times — and play at a high level when it mattered most.
“The great thing is, we hung tough and hit free throws when they counted,” coach Ron Stone said.
Friday night’s win had plenty of other positives to draw from as well. Wenatchee took care of the ball, committing just six turnovers in the first half. It boxed out well, securing 18 offensive rebounds, and it utilized big men Nathan Allison and Austin Chandler, who combined for 22 points and several second chance opportunities.
Junior Dillon Sugg was his usual self, scoring from all over the floor. He finished with a game-high 26 points.
Sunnyside 57, Wenatchee 55
Locked in at 55-55 with 15 seconds left to play, the Panthers were in good defensive position, but committed a foul. The Grizzlies knocked down both free throws and came away with the win, adding another close loss to Wenatchee’s long list of heartbreakers this season.
But the Panthers did plenty right to put themselves in position to win.
Ali Sealby’s defensive pressure held Sunnyside’s leading scorer, Jordan Rodriguez, to just three points in the second half.
Wenatchee (2-9 overall, 1-5 Big Nine) trailed by eight going into the fourth quarter, but put forth a strong effort in the final stage of the contest to make it close, outscoring the Grizzlies 18-12.
Amira Chandler led the team with 18 points and Riley Brown finished with 11.