Early in the first quarter of Richland's 99-57 win over Wenatchee in the first round of the CBBN district playoffs at Art Dawald Gym, Bombers coach Earl Streufert gave forward Garrett Gallinger a gentle reminder to be aggressive on offense.
"I told him this was his kind of game," Streufert said, knowing that with Panthers' star Connor Smith guarding 6-foot-6 Calvin Douglas inside, Gallinger could inflict all kinds of damage.
Gallinger listened and, for the remainder of the first half, took every opportunity he could to score. The 6-foot-3 senior hit his first three shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the first five minutes and scored 16 of his 18 points in the first 16 minutes.
"(Coach Streufert) says I haven't been shooting too well and haven't been very aggressive," Gallinger said. "I felt like I got back in the groove tonight."
With Richland leading 10-7 at 3:04 in the first, he bodied up on Wenatchee defender Kyle Keeler in the low post, hitting the layin and converting the ensuing foul shot. The three-point play started a 16-0 run that gave the Bombers a 26-7 lead after one quarter and all but put the game away.
"I'd take that kid (Gallinger) in a second," said Panthers coach Brett McGinnis. "I knew we'd have a problem with him from the get-go. Matching his intensity is tough."
The win presents Richland (18-3) with two different second-round scenarios based on tonight's Eisenhower-Davis matchup. If the Pirates (16-4), the top seed out of the Columbia Division, win they will play host to Richland at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday based on their higher seeding. If the No. 4-seeded Cadets (15-5) win, they will travel to Richland on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Wenatchee (7-13) will face the Davis-Ike loser on Tuesday in a loser-out game.
Richland split its season series against Ike, with each team winning at home, and won its lone game against Davis in Yakima, 74-66 back in December.
"Davis is pretty aggressive on defense, and they can get it going shooting the ball," Streufert said. "Eisenhower is a little more patient, and they're better inside."
One thing's for sure: If the Bombers shoot as well as they did Friday, it might not matter who they match up against.
Richland shot 58 percent (33-for-57) from the field and an incredible 15-of-21 from 3-point range. The Bombers were also a perfect 18-of-18 from the free-throw line.
"I've seen that in practice, where everything starts to go in," Streufert said. "What surprised me a little was how open we were."
Colton McCargar, who led all players with 20 points, hit all six of his 3-point attempts, including one in the second quarter that capped an 18-5 Richland run for a 46-18 lead with 2:21 left in the half.
"We just wanted to come out strong for districts, and thankfully we did," McCargar said. "It was important to come out strong on defense."
Richland's hot shooting wasn't limited to just one player. Mike Dunford hit 5 of 6 shots and three 3-pointers for 13 points; Tanner Dunn drained 5 of 8 shots plus four treys; and Hayden Hilty added 10 points off the bench on 3-of-5 shooting.
Meanwhile, the Bombers made life difficult for Smith, Wenatchee's leading scorer. Richland defenders clamped down on the usually graceful 6-8 post, making it difficult for him to use his strong footwork. Smith finished with 14 points, four under his average, on 3-of-10 shooting.
"We don't see their kind of size in our division," McGinnis said. "They did a good job taking away option No. 1. If teams are going to double-team (Smith), we've got to find another option."