RICHLAND — While Richland's Art Dawald Gym was erupting after Dylan Radliff hit what would be the game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of the Bombers' 67-65 win over Walla Walla on Friday, Earl Streufert called a timeout and glanced up at the clock.
Then, he cracked a smile.
"That was more of a thank you to Dylan for making that shot," Streufert said.
It wasn't a big smile -- just big enough to notice if you were looking -- because of the 3.5 seconds that remained on the clock. It was more than enough time for the Blue Devils to get the ball downcourt for a decent look.
"We've gone the length of the court in less time than that, and we knew Gary (Winston) could get there in that time," Streufert said.
But the Bombers played the inbound perfectly, denying Winston the ball and forcing an off-balance half-court heave from Michael Weisner. The shot was close, hitting the backboard and banging off the front rim before bouncing away to end the game.
In other words, a typical Richland-Walla Walla finish.
"I can't remember a game against Walla Walla not going down to the wire in the last two years," Streufert said. "It was everything it was billed to be."
The end was terrific, sure, but the beginning wasn't pretty for the Bombers.
The Blue Devils started the game on an 11-0 run, keeping Richland scoreless for more than six minutes of the first quarter before Tanner Dunn drilled a 3-pointer to put Richland on the board. That trey, however, started an 18-7 run that extended into the second quarter and tied the game at 18 on a long jumper from Colton McCargar with 4:53 left in the first half.
"We knew it was a rough start, but we all play with heart," said Radliff, who led the Bombers with 21 points -- including three 3-pointers -- four assists and two steals. "Once they got out to an 11-0 lead, we knew we had to find a way to score."
One of the biggest plays came with 1:22 left in the game. Just seconds after Radliff drained a 3-pointer to cut Wa-Hi's lead to 63-60, Bombers senior Mike Dunford intercepted a Blue Devils' inbounds pass, tipping it to McCargar for an easy layin to cut the lead to 63-62.
"It all started with Mikey," Radliff said. "That gave us a 5-0 run in less than three seconds."
Winston answered with a runner in the lane, but McCargar drove inside and scored with 44 seconds left, drawing the foul. He missed the shot, but Richland was within range at 65-64, setting the stage for Radliff's game-winning heroics.
Meanwhile, Winston was scoring at will, netting 19 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. In fact, six of Walla Walla's final eight possessions ended with the ball in his hands.
But as hot as Winston was, he couldn't find his range from outside. So he abandoned his perimeter game and drove inside, using that high-arcing floater of his for points in the lane.
Still, frustration mounted for the University of Idaho-bound senior guard, who felt the referees wouldn't allow him to play the type of physical defense he's used to playing.
"I played one of the worst defensive games of my career," Winston said. "When (Richland) got the ball, they got a bunch of calls."
The Bombers held a big edge inside, outrebounding the Blue Devils 35-25, with Calvin Douglas pulling down 16 boards. Douglas also added 16 points.
WALLA WALLA — Gary Winston 28, Aguiar, Arias 2, Weisner 20, James 5, Porter 2, Alden 8, Watson, Sumerlin. Totals 26-56 8-10 65.
RICHLAND — Dunford 4, Dylan Radliff 21, McCargar 18, Gar.Gallinger 2, Douglas 16, Hilty, Dunn 6, Gra.Gallinger. Totals 23-47 14-21 67.
Walla Walla 16 12 22 15 — 65
Richland 10 16 17 24 — 67
Highlights — Rebounds: WW 25 (Michael Weisner 9), R 35 (Douglas 16); Turnovers: WW 9, R 15; Winston 8 asts, 3 stls; Aguiar 3 stls; Radliff 3x7 3-ptrs, 4 asts, 2 stls.