Richland boys drop Gonzaga Prep 57-50 (w/ gallery)

By Jack Millikin, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 22, 2012 

RICHLAND -- Richland boys basketball coach Earl Streufert is a big believer in reaching your peak come playoff time.

This season, his team is playing its best ball when it counts.

After three years of falling one game short of the 4A state playoffs, Richland finally broke through against the defending 4A state champion Tuesday night at Art Dawald Gym in Richland.

The Bombers defeated Gonzaga Prep 57-50 to earn the No. 3 seed to the Regional Round of the State Tournament beginning Friday.

"We've had some pretty sweet wins here. This one is extra sweet," Streufert said. "The kids worked so hard to get here. All year, they've had a kill-us-to-beat-us mentality, and we made the plays we had to."

Senior guards Adam Baker, Colter Quick and Tyrell Turner combined for all of Richland's 16 fourth-quarter points, and the Bombers held the Bulldogs to just four points over the final five minutes, including T.J. Bracey's uncontested 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Quick was a starter on the team that lost last season's state play-in game at Ferris. This season, he made sure that would not happen, scoring eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.

Ryan Gregory drove the lane for a bucket that put Gonzaga Prep up 46-44 with a little more than 5 minutes remaining in the game. Baker beat his man off the dribble for 2 to tie the score at 46.

A minute later, Quick came back, spun through the lane on the dribble and hit a fadeaway jumper from 15 feet to give the Bombers the lead for good at 48-46.

"I'm exhausted, but I'm glad to get the win," said Quick, who cut through an open lane for several easy layins in the final frame. "That wasn't me. That was my teammates finding me and getting me the ball."

Richland (15-9) will face third-ranked Central Valley (19-3) at 6 p.m. Friday at Spokane Falls Community College. The Bombers have faced the Bears before, losing 57-55 at home in December.

"It was a close game, but we've gotten so much better," Quick said. "We want to show people we can beat any top-10 team in the state."

Against Gonzaga Prep, Baker got hot early and stayed that way, hitting 8-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-6 from the 3-point line. Every one of his treys either extended or gave the Bombers the lead, but he also did plenty of work inside the arc.

The gutsy senior stole the ball in the Bulldogs' backcourt 47 seconds into the fourth quarter and drove in from the left wing for a layin, getting fouled by Bracey in the process.

It was Bracey's fourth foul. The 6-foot senior guard, who started as a junior on the state championship team, had to leave the game with 7:13 left to play. Bracey also led Prep with 13 points.

"I don't think we lost any points, but we might have lost some composure with our leader on the bench," Bulldogs coach Matty McIntyre said. "Ultimately, we weren't able to get enough stops down the stretch."

Baker finished with a game-high 21 points, while Quick and Nathan Streufert each added 11. Turner chipped in 10 more, the fourth player in double digits for Richland.

"When they started to pressure us, none of us shied away," Baker said. "We all played hard and continued to execute."

Streufert continued his solid play, notching his 12th game in double figures with 11 points and also leading Richland with eight rebounds and three steals. The 6-7 sophomore also stepped in to take two charging fouls by Gonzaga Prep, adding to his growing total -- estimated at 18-20 by his coach and father, Earl -- this season.

"We really answered the call in the third quarter. Nathan made a layup inside (capping a 6-2 Bombers run), and we made some other nice buckets," Earl said of a 13-8 run that put Richland up 38-35. "We might've played zone four times tonight, but we got stops on two of them."

The Bombers coach also was pleased with the crowd support at Art Dawald, which included several members of the top-ranked Davis boys basketball team.

"I'm really proud of the fans rolling out on a Tuesday night," Streufert said. "Our student section is fantastic."

GONZAGA PREP -- T.J. Bracey 13, Gregory 6, Hopkins 8, McClary, Groh 10, Nottinson 4, Alexander 5, Kuharski 4, Dowd, Grenz, Gruber. Totals 20-46 7-11 50.

RICHLAND -- Turner 10, Adam Baker 21, Radliff 2, Quick 11, Streufert 11, Malone 2, Fuller, Wheeler, Hilty. Totals 23-46 6-14 57.

Gonzaga Prep 17 10 12 11 -- 50

Richland 16 9 16 16 -- 57

Highlights -- Rebounds: GP 31 (Ryan Gregory 7), R 24 (Nathan Streufert 8). 3-pointers: GP 3-10 (Bracey 2, Alexander), R 5-12 (Baker 4, Colter Quick). Turnovers: GP 18, R 13. Steals: GP 8 (Gregory 3), R 9 (Nathan Streufert 3). Assists: GP 8 (Hopkins 2, Alexander 2), R 15 (Baker 4, Quick 4).

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