Paul Mayer walked off the floor at Art Dawald Gym a man in control after Hanfords 67-62 Mid-Columbia Conference win over Richland.
What he should have done was scream and shout and jump up and down, as his Falcons players did after the momentous and much-needed road win over the sixth-ranked Bombers.
In his heart, though, was uncontained jubilation.
Im as proud as Ive ever been, Mayer said. We got so dominated in December. To have this kind of mental toughness, especially after a tough loss at home (62-54 to Pasco) on Tuesday.
This is as proud as Ive been in a long time.
Joe Douglas scored 11 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, but it was another big man, Nick Dobken, who made the play that turned the tide for Hanford.
With the Falcons clinging to a slim lead at 64-62 with just 19 seconds remaining, Dobken held his ground in the low block against Richlands versatile post Nathan Streufert.
We havent taken a lot of charges this year, Mayer said.
The play could have tied the game for the Bombers. Instead, Streufert was called for the charge, allowing Hanford to extend its lead.
From there, Douglas hit a free throw with 7 seconds remaining, and Jalen DeVine iced the win with two more.
This is huge. Thats why I cant stop smiling, Dobken said after grabbing 10 rebounds. Beating Richland on this court is the best feeling in the world.
Hanford scored the first four points of the game, but then Richland used a 14-0 first-quarter run to take a 14-4 lead with 2:38 left. The Falcons shot right back with an 8-2 run to trail just 16-12 after one.
DeVine helped set the tone early for Hanford, attacking the basket to help take some pressure off Douglas inside. DeVine had eight points in the first half. It was his aggressive drive, and ensuing bucket, against Bombers defender Steven Beo that started a 13-2 second quarter run and gave Hanford a 32-24 first-half lead.
Ill tell you, hes a four-year starter who has been through a lot. Hes played really well the last week-and-a-half, Mayer said. He deserves this kind of game.
DeVine finished with 18 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. One of those treys came with 1:20 left in the game and gave the Falcons a 64-50 lead.
Hes the one who sets everything up, Douglas said of DeVine. He usually scores a lot for us, and he hit a big 3 there.
As big as DeVine was for Hanford, Payton Radliff was setting himself up for some more late-game heroics. The Bombers 5-foot-10 junior guard, who hit the game-winning shot to beat Chiawana on Tuesday, drilled five 3-pointers in the second half against the Falcons.
Radliff finished with 18 points. Streufert led Richland with 20 points and nine rebounds.
But the Bombers downfall was not shooting. Nor was it defense.
I thought we played pretty well. We shot 40 percent, Richland coach Earl Streufert said, looking at the score sheet. We shot 46 percent (11-of-24) from the free throw line. Thats inexcusable.
HANFORD Sutey 6, Jalen DeVine 18, J.Watson 2, Joe Douglas 23, Nick Dobken 4, Jones 8, Heid 6, K.Watson. Totals 22-52 11-24 62.
RICHLAND DeVries 8, Beo 12, Payton Radliff 18, Hilty 4, Nathan Streufert 20, Broeske, Wheeler. Totals 25-55 8-14 67.
Hanford 12 20 14 21 67
Richland 16 8 19 19 62
Highlights 3-pointers: H 5 (Sutey 2, Devine 2, Heid), R 7 (Radliff 5, Beo 2); Rebounds: H 28 (Douglas 12, Nick Dobken 10), R 28 (Streufert 9); Turnovers: H 11, R 14; Sutey 4 steals; Streufert 5 assists; Jalen Watson 4 assists.