RICHLAND -- A shooter, a slasher and a glinty-eyed guard walk into a gym.
It sounds like a set-up to a punchline, but the joke has been on CBBN 4A boys basketball teams at least twice a week this season.
When Richland senior guards Adam Baker, Tyrell Turner and Colter Quick walk through the doors, though, nobody on the opposing side is laughing.
The tight-knit trio will take the floor again tonight when the Bombers (14-9) play host to Gonzaga Prep (16-7) at 6 p.m. at Art Dawald Gym. The winner will earn the No. 2 seed into the 4A state tournament beginning Friday at Spokane Falls Community College.
It's Richland's first chance since 2008 to reach the 4A state tournament, and the Bombers don't plan to waste it.
"It's probably the biggest game I've played in my whole life, and it could be the last game I play in high school. I don't want it to end right now," said Baker, a first-team all-CBBN selection averaging 13.2 points a game. "Everybody wants to win. We're going to do everything it takes."
Baker and Turner each attended Chief Joseph Middle School and enjoyed a natural rivalry with Carmichael Middle School and Quick as its featured player.
"We had some tough games. I remember losing a game when I missed a free throw against them," said Turner, a second-team all-CBBN pick averaging 12.2 points a game. "(Quick) reminds me about that now and then."
Once they all got to Richland, however, it became Earl Streufert's responsibility to bring out their strengths and expand their abilities. He's pretty happy with their progress, especially with the Bombers winning 10 of their last 14 games.
"We struggled over Christmas, losing three of four, but there was really no panic in those seniors," Streufert said. "We lost the district title game because we didn't play very well. A lot of teams would have rolled up right there. But we really excelled in our next game (a 72-63 win over Chiawana). If your sophomores don't have somebody to look up to in those situations, to draw energy from that kind of poise, you end up losing those games."
The three seniors have a variety of strengths they use to set them apart in games. Baker is mainly a 3-point specialist who keeps opposing defenses honest with his deep range, and he's never afraid to scrap for loose balls.
In fact, it's when the 6-foot-2 Baker doesn't take shots that upsets coach Streufert.
"If I pass up an open shot, yeah," Baker said.
Lately, that hasn't been an issue.
"If I pass to Adam, I know if I put it right in his pocket, he'll hit the shot," said Quick, who earned honorable mention all-CBBN after averaging 8.0 points a game. The 6-3 redhead admits his scoring is down from last season, but he has improved in several other areas, including passing and defense.
A solid relationship with Streufert has helped, too.
"He's been a good influence for me. We both have the same attitude. We're funny guys, sarcastic at times. We both like winning a lot," Quick said. "He knows my personality really well. He knows if I'm doing all right or if I need to shake something off.
"I can't see myself playing for anybody else."
Perhaps the biggest jump of the year came from Turner, who was averaging just 8.1 points through the first eight games before he began attacking the hoop with abandon. Over Richland's last 15 games, Turner averaged 14.4 points, including a season high of 24 in a win against Moses Lake.
"As a point guard, coach wants me to distribute the ball and attack when I get the chance. To get everybody involved, you know?" said the 5-10 Turner, who is happy to have another chance to reach state. "Any time you get another chance it means a lot. We didn't make the most of that chance last year. (A home game) makes a big difference."
Streufert feels blessed to have coached this particular group, which he said has attended the Bombers summer basketball camp in each of his 13 years as Richland's coach.
"You take those three guys and roll them all together as your seniors -- a group like that you'd take any year," he said. "Good defense. They can score. Good competitors. They're good representatives of our program."
Last 10: Gonzaga Prep 8-2. Richland 7-3.
Key players: GP -- G Ryan Gregory (11.9), G T.J. Bracey (11.6). R -- G Adam Baker (13.2), G Tyrell Turner (12.2), G Payton Radliff (10.5), P Nathan Streufert (9.8).