People may debate the greatness of the 2013-14 Richland team and where it may fit in the pantheon of Bomber basketball history.
Richland completed its 21st consecutive win Saturday night, an 86-66 win over Chiawana in the Mid-Columbia Conference district championship, putting it in rare company as far as Bomber winning streaks are concerned.
Could this be the greatest team ever put together at Richland High? The question was posed to coaches and players alike. The consensus among them was that the only proper answer could be given after the end of the season.
No one, however, could deny just how special Saturday night’s victory was for Richland seniors Payton Radliff and Nathan Streufert, who both scored their 1,000th point on the same night, on the same floor that raised them in the Bomber tradition.
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“Payton has been with me the whole time since freshman year. We wanted to be able to do it on the same night, and it’s so awesome to do it in the district championship,” said Streufert, who finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds to bring his career scoring total to 1,024 points. “Chiawana is a great team, and we couldn’t take them lightly. We had to come out with the same fire we had for the first 20 games.”
Radliff finished with six 3-pointers for a game-high 26 points, adding three steals to put him at 1,019 career points. He capped his night sitting atop the west goal waving what was left of the net over his head to the delight of the student section that had joined the team on the floor.
“This was a great win. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going into regionals,” Radliff said. “I’ve been playing with Nathan my whole life. It was special to do it on our last night on our home court.”
Chiawana didn’t make things easy on Richland, however, jumping out to a 12-7 lead on Brandon Mendoza’s 3-pointer with 3:03 left in the first quarter. But Richland kept working to find a rhythm and finished the quarter on an 8-2 run to lead 15-14.
The Bombers continued to move forward in the second. After Wesley Henderson gave the Riverhawks a 16-15 lead with a strong move inside, Richland went on a 13-2 run fueled by a one-handed tomahawk jam in the lane by Streufert, giving Richland a 28-18 lead with just under 4 minutes left in the half.
“Victor (Koval) got into foul trouble, and that hurt us on both ends.,” Chiawana coach Chad Herron said. “I was pleased with the second quarter, because of how we played with him out.
“The key to the game was the start of the third quarter. They took advantage of every mental mistake we made.”
Richland led 40-31 at the half, but started the third quarter on a 13-4 run fueled by a pair of Radliff 3s that all but put the game out of reach.
“I thought our effort to start the third quarter was really good,” Bombers coach Earl Streufert said, reflecting on the rarity of having two 1,000 point scorers on the same night. “I’ve never seen it happen. It couldn’t go to two more deserving guys.”
Richland (21-0) will travel to Spokane to take on Ferris (18-3) at 7 p.m. next Friday in the opening round of the District 5/8 regional tournament. The Riverhawks (12-10) will face Tuesday night’s winner between Central Valley (16-4) and Gonzaga Prep (17-4).
Herron said he likes Richland’s chances because of the way they approach the game on offense and defense.
“They put five scoring threats on the floor, and their passing ability and intelligence on when to cut makes them special,” Herron said, noting that he’s not seen their equal “on this side of the state in my 18 years of coaching.”
Henderson led the Riverhawks with 18 points.
CHIAWANA — Deion Singleton 11, Wren 3, Brandon Mendoza 11, Victor Koval 10, Wes Henderson 18, Harris, Dorton 2, Grandison 5, Maughan 4. Totals 22-57 19-22 66.
RICHLAND — Devries 8, McCullough 7, Beo 5, Payton Radliff 26, Nathan Streufert 25, Torres-Elfering 8, Nelson, Perry, Leahy 2, Ch.Miller, Car.Miller 5, Ostler. Totals 33-64 12-22 86.
Chiawana 14 17 18 17 — 66
Richland 15 25 29 17 — 86
Highlights — 3-pointers: C 3-19 (Singleton, Mendoza, Henderson), R 8-19 (Radliff 6); Rebounds: C 35 (Wren 6), R 41 (Streufert 14); Turnovers: C 14, R 12; Assists: C 9 (Mendoza 3), R 12 (Streufert 6); Steals: C 7 (Singleton 3), R 9 (McCullough 3, Streufert 3); Koval 2 blocks.