TACOMA The Richland High basketball team may not have brought home the first state title for the program since 1979, but the Bombers did have their finest year in more than three decades.
And a big reason for that was the play of its seven seniors.
While Jacob DeVries, Payton Radliff, Drew McCullough and Nathan Streufert got all the headlines, the behind-the-scenes work of Mason Nelson, Daniel Torres-Elfering and Nate Perry were just as important to the 25-1 season.
They are a special group from top to bottom, Richland coach Earl Streufert said. If they are not full-time players, they are part-time players but full-time Bombers.
I cant say enough about Nellie, Nate Perry and Daniel Torres. They all gave us something. A lot of people dont see that because they arent there every day.
The group of seniors wrapped up a tremendous two-year run that saw Richland reach the state tournament twice, win 43 games and two Mid-Columbia Conference titles.
Playing with these guys was an amazing experience, Richlands Nathan Streufert said. I love all six of them. They mean a lot. To finish our last game in the state championship game really means a lot.
The seniors stepped up throughout the tournament, as well as during the season.
From DeVries 33 points in the quarterfinals, to Radliffs solid play throughout the tournament, to Streufert rebounding and passing the ball well, to McCullough playing his heart out defending the Garfield guards, they all contributed.
Its been great playing with them, DeVries said. I wouldnt ask to play with anyone else than these guys. Im gonna miss them.
Steven Beo, who was named to the all-tournament first team along with DeVries, is thankful he got to play with the group before they graduated.
Amazing. They helped me so much, the sophomore said. I cant even describe how much they helped me grow through my two years and prepare me for what to expect. I cant thank them enough.
SOPHOMORE SENSATION: Speaking of Beo, he had nine points in the third quarter and 16 in the second half to help lead the Bombers back into the game and give them a chance in the end.
He was definitely the talk of the tournament, opening eyes not only with his 3-point shooting, but his ability to get to the basket and finish with either hand. He also had a tremendous tournament rebounding the ball, grabbing a total of 23 in three games.
(I love the) atmosphere, he said. All these people are here to cheer for us and watch us play, and I want to try to make them proud.
SUPERSTAR LINEAGE: Tramaine Isabell knew to join the pantheon of great players to come out of Seattle, hed need a title.
And to win a title, hed have to go off to beat a talented Richland High team.
The Washington State-bound guard did just that, pouring in 33 points, including 22 in the first half.
I noticed that all the good guards out of Seattle, the guards that ended up doing something, won a state title, he said. Aaron Brooks, Peyton Siva won two. I wanted to try and imitate those guys if I could.
Isabell brought Garfield its first title since 1998 and last in Class 4A as the school is dropping next season.
He also made up for missing a late free throw in last years Class 3A title loss with Lakeside against Rainier Beach.
WHAT NOW?: While some of the Richland High players shed tears after the game, some like Nathan Streufert just looked a bit shell shocked.
And it wasnt only because his team just lost the state title game.
Honestly, the biggest reason Im upset right now is because it is all over, he said. I played a lot of games in front of the Richland crowd. Im sad that I wont get to do that ever again.
We are really pleased with the way the season went. We wish we couldve gotten first place, but you know we are happy with the season.
Streufert plans to play in college next year, though hasnt decided where.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: The strong play of Richland High wasnt overlooked by the media present, as Jacob DeVries and Steven Beo were named to the all-tournament first team.
Isabell was named MVP, while Jacksons Jason Todd and Issaquahs Ty Gibson rounded out the first team.
Beamers Trey Burch-Manning, Jacksons Dan Kingma, Kentridges Jawan Stepney, Gonzaga Preps Sam Dowd and Issaquahs Brian Watson made up the second team.