RICHLAND -- With apologies to Kipling, the biggest difference isn't always made by the high-point man. The player who can swing a game is often the one who thinks he can.
On a night where the CBBN boys basketball heavyweights on the floor -- Jordan Downing, Colter Quick and Miquiyah Zamora -- led their teams in scoring with inspired effort, Richland guard Casey Malone played just over 10 minutes off the bench.
In that short time, however, he was a major catalyst in the Bombers' 64-58 home victory over Chiawana in the CBBN 4A district semifinals at Art Dawald Gym.
Richland (13-8) will travel to Yakima on Friday to play top-ranked Davis (18-2) at 7 p.m. for the Class 4A District 5/6 championship. The Riverhawks (11-11) will host to Walla Walla (10-12) at 5 p.m. Friday in an elimination game.
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Malone scored only one point against Chiawana, but his impact was felt from the minute he entered the game in the third quarter. In his first minute of play -- with Richland trailing 30-28 just 45 seconds into the third -- he grabbed an offensive rebound and blocked two shots. That boosted his team's morale enough to spark a 17-2 run and give the Bombers a 45-32 lead with 2:03 left in the frame.
"Our coach is always saying you have to be ready to come off the bench and contribute. I was watching and waiting for my chance," said Malone, a 6-foot-1 senior forward who finished with six rebounds. "I didn't want to be left out."
Until Malone's emergence, the teams had battled for 16 1/2 minutes with 12 lead changes and two ties.
"He was just involved in so many big plays. This was a the right kind of game for him. Between he and Colter, those two saved us tonight," Bombers coach Earl Streufert said. "Colter had a great week of practice. He did a lot of things leadership-wise tonight and only had one or two turnovers."
Streufter also praised another senior, guard Tyler Fuller, for hitting a big 3-pointer to close out the second quarter and put Richland back on top 28-27.
"That was a huge shot when we were struggling on offense," Streufert said. "Those three seniors gave us a huge lift. You can't over-value that."
Quick, a returning all-CBBN 4A guard, had six points in the first half, but found a rhythm in the second half that made him nearly unstoppable. The 6-3 senior drained a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter during Richland's big run, but he saved his best work for the fourth quarter.
He grabbed a rebound on a Tyrell Turner miss and scored the putback to give the Bombers a 50-39 lead early in the fourth quarter. When Chiawana scrapped back into it, pulling to within 57-53 with 1:43 left in the game, Quick answered the bell again. He snagged a miss by Adam Baker and hit a soft fadeaway jumper in the lane, drawing the foul in the process and scoring the and-1 to push Richland's lead to 60-53.
"Hustle plays are what wins games. Quick and (Payton) Radliff made big shots, and Casey Malone's energy was the difference in the game," said Chiawana coach Chad Herron. "The third quarter was the key to the game. We missed five makeable layups. There was a 4-minute segment where they hit an off-balance jumper and we missed a gimme. Then they hit another big shot and we missed another gimme."
Zamora and Downing had 18 points apiece, and Zamora added a Herculean 16 rebounds to his stat sheet. Zamora was one of three players -- Radliff and Baker went the full slate for Richland -- to play all 32 minutes, and he never seemed to stop once for a breather.
The Riverhawks also got an unusual boost from two four-point plays. Zach Mendoza, who finished with 12 points, got knocked to the floor by Baker after letting a 3-pointer go from the right wing. The shot went, and so did the ensuing free throw.
Baker was the unwitting culpirit on the second quad, too, getting a piece of Enrique Perez on a fourth-quarter trey. Perez's free throw cut Richland's lead to 56-50 with 2:20 left.
"I couldn't be more proud of my kids tonight. They were down by 14 and cut it to 3," Herron said. "I love that this group never gives up."
CHIAWANA -- Zach Mendoza 12, Perez 5, Miquiyah Zamora 18, Babinchuk 5, Jordan Downing 18, Torres, B.Mendoza. Totals 19-54 16-23 58.
RICHLAND -- Turner 12, Baker 10, Radliff 9, Colter Quick 21, Streufert 8, Fuller 3, Malone 1, Wheeler. Totals 24-59 11-20 64.
Chiawana 9 18 10 21 -- 58
Richland 9 19 20 16 -- 64
Highlights -- Rebounds: C 40 (Zamora 16), R 39 (Nathan Streufert 8); 3-pointers: C 4x13 (Zamora 3), R 5x15 (Quick 2); Turnovers: C 10, R 5; Quick 3 assists; Zamora 3 assists; Babinchuk 2 blocks; Malone 2 blocks.