PASCO -- With any basketball team, there is a natural pecking order for minutes, shots and plays drawn up.
Chiawana is no different, except the Riverhawks rely on their starting five more than most teams, which makes the play of their top three bench players down the stretch even more improbable.
Senior Kendyl Reynolds and sophomores Danielle Loving and Bianca Gonzales don't see a lot of minutes, but when they do, they tend to be key ones.
"I think they are just happy with the team," Chiawana coach Steve Davis said. "Bianca and Danielle understand they are sophomores and there is a pecking order. Kendyl is just that kid that is extremely happy to be playing basketball and be a part of a team and is just going to do whatever it takes to make a team better."
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Loving has seen a decent amount of minutes this season, playing the role of backup point guard and sixth person off the bench. Reynolds is a backup guard and defensive stopper, and Gonzales is a 3-point specialist used to stretch the floor when needed.
Their efforts were needed no more than Saturday during Chiawana's elimination game against Gonzaga Prep at Richland.
Loving and Reynolds played big minutes in the 69-65 double-overtime victory that helped the Riverhawks advance to the Class 4A quarterfinals and a 3:45 p.m. matchup with Lake Stevens today at the Tacoma Dome.
"The role players were amazing," Hayley Hodgins said Saturday after the victory. "They did everything they could do and didn't do anything they couldn't. We wouldn't have won without them."
Loving came onto the floor in the first quarter after Gonzaga Prep's full-court press forced consecutive back-court turnovers.
"I was nervous, but I felt like I was ready," Loving said. "I felt I could bring energy to the floor and help my team the best way I could."
While Loving was using her size (5-foot-9) and court vision to single-handedly help break the Bullpups' press, Reynolds came on and played her patented in-your-face defense on Washington State-bound Tia Presley.
While Presley scored 26 points, they didn't come easy and Reynolds' defense was especially key down the stretch as Chiawana starter Shelby Ellsworth fouled out.
"It helped when (Presley) started to get frustrated and started making turnovers," Reynolds said. "It helped us to take it to our advantage."
While Gonzales didn't play Saturday, she did come up big in the regular-season CBBN 4A title-clinching victory against Richland, hitting a key 3-pointer to stem a Bombers rally.
"It is hard coming cold off the bench," she said, "but in games like that, you just have to do what you have to do."
That kind of attitude has served the trio well this year, whether in practice or in their limited minutes.
"We always play at game speed (in practice)," Reynolds said. "When you are guarding someone, you need to play like you are in a game, so they can get experience and get better from it."
Reynolds played varsity last season, getting more minutes than she had all year at the state tournament. Loving swung between JV and varsity, and played a few minutes at state. Gonzales will experience the Tacoma Dome for the first time.
"I feel like last year was a very good experience for me," Loving said. "I feel like we now know what we'll have to do. I feel like I know what the environment is going to be like this year."
And all three players are more than happy to be along for the ride, no matter how much playing time they get.
"Our starters are all seniors, except for Sadie (Sparks)," Reynolds said, "and Sadie definitely deserves to start. I try to earn playing time, and that is when you get it.
"When you earn it."