Better to have this game in Pasco than in Tacoma.
The Richland High boys basketball team, undefeated and a state title favorite, struggled to make baskets, was dominated on the glass and outmuscled before pulling away late for an 83-55 Class 4A regional victory over Moses Lake at Chiawana High.
“We didn’t really show up,” Richland’s Steven Beo said. “Better to get it now than in Tacoma. Moses Lake is a good team, physical, tough, and that is what we are going to see in Tacoma. This was a great game going into Tacoma.”
The Bombers (24-0) advanced to the Class 4A state tournament for a second consecutive year and will play Thursday evening in the Tacoma Dome. They will find out their opponent and game time Sunday during the WIAA’s draw.
“I think it was bad coaching,” Richland coach Earl Streufert said of the team’s struggles. “I don’t think I got them ready the last three days. The expectations for these guys are really high, obviously, and sometimes as coaches we get caught up in the success we’ve had and you get a little bit complacent.
“I’d much rather get a slap in the face here tonight than over there. It’s a good wakeup call for our guys I think.”
The Bombers struggled to shoot the ball throughout the first 31⁄2 quarters, making just two 3-pointers in that time. But a Jacob DeVries hustle play got the Bombers on track.
After a Derek Martinez 3-pointer pulled the Chiefs within 54-44 with 5:54 left in the game. The Bombers came down and missed a basket and DeVries attempted a putback, which he missed and found himself laying on the floor.
The ball came back to him and he grabbed it, threw it to Daniel Torres-Elfering, who then found Beo in the corner for a 3-pointer — and a big sigh of relief from the 2,500 fans in attendance.
“I was just trying to keep a play alive, the whole game was keeping plays alive,” DeVries said. “We got nervous in front of the big crowd, but it is just a matter of time. From there we just made shots.”
The Bombers scored the next nine points, as Payton Radliff hit a 3-pointer, Beo had a layup, Radliff two free throws and Torres-Elfering a layup for a 66-44 lead and a 12-0 run.
“If we are not making them, we are going to make them eventually,” Beo said. “It is bound to happen.”
The Bombers kept pouring it on, as Beo made two more free throws and DeVries a layup to cap a 16-2 run and give them a 70-46 lead.
Now, Richland High is headed back to Tacoma, which was a house of horrors for them a year ago.
The Bombers went 0-2 at state and want to prove that was a fluke.
“We’re excited. We’re gonna get them this year,” Beo said. “Last year we didn’t have a good run, but this year, we know what to expect. We’re going to get them.”
Beo finished with 28 points, including four 3-pointers. He also had a team-high six rebounds. Radliff had 16 points, four assists and four steals, while DeVries had 14 points.
Cesar Sandoval gave the Bombers fits all night, using his big frame to keep Nathan Streufert in check. Streufert had just 10 points and six rebounds. Sandoval had 22 points before fouling out.
MOSES LAKE — Cesar Sandoval 11 0-0 22, Tyson Karstetter 4 1-2 10, Mitch Homan 2 0-0 5, Derek Martinez 3 0-0 8, Josh Hirz 2 0-0 4, Isaiah Thomas 1 0-0 2, Nick Sutherland 1 0-0 2, Jordan Chavez 1 0-0 2, Jace Hunt 0 0-0 0, Bryan Earl 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 1-2 55.
RICHLAND — Jacob DeVries 3 7-8 14, Steven Beo 10 4-5 28, Nathan Streufert 4 2-6 10, Payton Radliff 5 4-5 16, Daniel Torres-Elfering 2 1-2 5, Drew McCullough 1 2-2 4, Carson Miller 0 0-0 0, JP Leahy 0 1-2 1, Chad Miller 1 2-2 4, Mason Nelson 0 1-2 1, Nate Perry 0 0-0 0, Jefferson Ostler 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 24-34 83.
Moses Lake 9 12 18 16 — 55
Richland 15 18 17 33 — 83
3-point goals—ML 4 (Martinez 2, Karstetter, Hohman), Richland 7 (Beo 4, Radliff 2, DeVries). Rebounds—ML 37 (Karstetter 11), Richland 31 (Beo 6). Assists—ML 11 (Thomas 5), Richland 14 (Radliff 4). Turnovers—ML 20, Richland 6. Fouls—ML23, Richland 6. Fouled out—Sandoval