Bianca Gonzales didnt want to be a part of the first Chiawana senior class to not win a league title.
So, the point guard took it upon herself to deliver a fourth consecutive crown.
The 5-foot-5 senior scored a game-high 23 points, including 15 in the second half Saturday to lead the Riverhawks to a 64-43 victory over Hanford in a Mid-Columbia Conference game in Richland.
In my mind, I was thinking we had to win this game so we could win the league title, she said. I wanted to keep that going.
The Riverhawks are guaranteed at least a split of the inaugural MCC crown with Walla Walla, which dispatched Kamiakin on Saturday. Chiawana hosts Walla Walla on Friday in a game that will determine the No. 1 seed to the District 5 tournament.
And a big reason the Riverhawks have a one-game lead on the Blue Devils is Gonzales, one of three seniors on the Chiawana squad this season.
She put it on herself to take over, and she did, Chiawana coach Steve Davis said. Every game and every practice we beg her to shoot more. It is just her believing in herself that she can do it and tonight she did.
With three minutes left in the third quarter, Chiawanas Delaney Hodgins went to the bench with her third foul, and that is when Gonzales started attacking the rim.
She scored the next eight points for the Riverhawks, all on either layups or free throws.
I think people dont expect me to score, but when I have to I do, she said. I usually try to give (Hodgins) the ball, but I knew I had to step up and carry my team.
Chiawana also got big minutes from sophomore post Molly Sullivan, who played solid defense on Hanford star Colette Gall when Hodgins went to the bench.
The Riverhawks held Gall in check all night, as she finished with 12 points.
Those minutes were the turning point, Davis said of Sullivan guarding Gall.
Hanford took a 7-2 lead early, but Chiawana went on a 17-4 run over the next 6 minutes to take a comfortable lead that it maintained for most of the game.
The Falcons cut the lead to seven a few times in the third quarter and once in the fourth quarter, but Chiawana closed the game on a 14-0 run.
We just couldnt get over the hump, Hanford coach Evan Woodward said. Playing the No. 1 team, you battle as hard as you can and then you have to move on and get ready for Kennewick.
Woodward cited the strong play of Shelby Winsor and Vanessa Roueche off the bench. Sydney Shintaffer also hit three 3-pointers to keep Hanford close.
With the loss, the Falcons are now tied for the No. 2 seed to the district tournament with Sunnyside. If Hanford wins out, it is guaranteed the spot, because it won the head-to-head matchup.
The Falcons host Kennewick on Friday and play at Kamiakin the following Tuesday.
Hodgins finished with 21 points for the Riverhawks, who shot 19-of-20 from the free-throw line. Cierah Alferness added eight points and Sullivan had seven.
Shintaffers 13 points led the Falcons, while Roueche finished with seven.
CHIAWANA Molly Sullivan 3 1-1 7, Delaney Hodgins 6 8-8 21, Bianca Gonzales 6 8-9 23, Cierah Alferness 2 2-2 8, Jennifer Gonzales 1 0-0 3, Braydey Hodgins 0 0-0 0, Sierra Perez 1 0-0 2, Bernadette Roach 0 0-0 0, Darbi Pink 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 19-20 64.
HANFORD Sydney Shintaffer 5 0-0 13, Colette Gall 3 6-6 12, Ashley Stewart 1 0-2 2, Savanna Steele 1 0-0 3, Miranda Foraker 1 0-0 2, Vanessa Roueche 2 2-5 7, Hannah Thompson 0 0-0 0, Shelby Winsor 1 2-2 4. Totals 14 10-15 43.
Chiawana 13 19 18 14 64
Hanford 8 17 15 3 43
3-point goals Chiawana 7 (B. Gonzales 3, Alferness 2, Hodgins, J. Gonzales), Hanford 5 (Shintaffer 3, Roueche, Steele). Total fouls Chiawana 10, Hanford 15. Fouled out none. Rebounds Chiawana 34 (Alferness 7), Hanford 30 (Gall 11). Turnovers Chiawana 12, Hanford 13. Blocked shots Chiawana 2 (Hodgins 2), Hanford 2 (Gall 2).