TACOMA — Richland High’s dream season slipped away in the final moments Saturday, literally and figuratively.
The Bombers made a pair of costly turnovers late, dropping the Class 4A state title game to Garfield 68-59 at the Tacoma Dome.
The loss ended a perfect season for Richland (25-1) and hopes of the program’s first state title since 1979.
“It was in our hands,” Richland’s Payton Radliff said. “It was in our hands and we let it go.”
Trailing 60-58 with 1:37 left, Jacob DeVries lost a ball out of bounds. After a pair of Garfield free throws, Nathan Streufert then let a ball get away, and four different Bombers had a chance to grab it before it squirted away to the other end for a layup.
“It just didn’t go our way in the end,” DeVries said. “It slipped out of my hands. I thought that was the difference maker right there. We just didn’t finish down the stretch.”
The Bombers had played the athletic Bulldogs to a standstill throughout the game, surprising many West side pundits in the process.
Using their patented spread-the-ball-around offense, Richland was in a position to win after a 4-0 mini-run tied the game.
Steven Beo sank a jumper to make it 58-56, and then Radliff blocked a shot at the other end and kicked the ball out to DeVries, who went coast-to-coast to tie the game and bring the Tacoma Dome to its feet.
But the momentum quickly slipped away.
“It was bad luck,” Beo said. “Slippery. Went right through his hands. Can’t do anything about that. It’s bound to happen once or twice, just the wrong time.”
Everything had gone right for Richland all season.
The Bombers were rarely challenged and cruised into the state title game thanks to dominating wins over Wenatchee and Todd Beamer in the first two rounds of the state tournament.
They came out on fire Saturday, taking an early 14-4 lead. It looked like maybe this would be another Richland rout.
But Washington State-bound guard Tramaine Isabell took over from there.
The 6-foot-2 point guard went on a personal 12-0 run to put Garfield in front and start a wild, back-and-forth affair between the East and West powerhouses.
There were nine ties and nine lead changes in the game, and no lead bigger than the Bombers’ early 10-point margin.
“We just played as hard as we could, and some plays at the end didn’t go our way,” Streufert said. “Garfield is a great team. They pressure a lot and they are real physical. We expected it. The whole year, for 26 games now, we fought all the way — 32 minutes every single game. This one just didn’t come out the way we wanted it to.”
Garfield appeared poised to run away with the game early in the fourth quarter, taking a 56-49 lead, but the Bombers rallied yet again.
Beo hit a long 3-pointer with two defenders in his face. After a Garfield turnover, Radliff scored on the other end thanks to a goal-tending call to make it 56-54 and set up the wild ending.
Isabell was a handful for the Bombers all day, finishing with 34 points and seven rebounds.
“We knew we couldn’t control him. We could mess with him a bit, but that was it,” Richland coach Earl Streufert said. “We just weren’t athletic enough in some places to guard them like we needed to.
“No excuses today. We played our ass off. I’m real proud of those guys.”
The Bombers definitely turned heads at this state tournament, including that of Isabell.
“We watched them yesterday, they are tough,” he said. “There is nothing to look over, especially with all those 3s they were making. They run the perfect offense for the players they had.
“(Garfield coach Ed Haskins) had a good gameplan, and it ended up working.”
The title game was the seventh in the history of Richland High, but the Bombers will remain with the three state championships — 1958, 1972 and 1979.
Even without the championship trophy, though, it is still a season that will go down in Richland High lore.
“It was tremendous for our fans, for our kids, for our program and for everybody associated with Bomber basketball,” Earl Streufert said. “You play yourself into the last three minutes to win a state title, with a group of guys that were really unheralded going into the year. I can’t say enough about this year.
“It will be a season that will always be remembered as one of the greatest Richland teams.”
Beo finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while DeVries had 12 points and four rebounds. Both players were named to the all-tournament first team.
Radliff added 12 points and five rebounds, and Nathan Streufert had 11 points, five rebounds and two assists.
GARFIELD — Jashaun Agosto 3-10 0-2 6, Tramaine Isabell 9-17 12-16 34, Terrell Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Brayon Blake 5-8 2-2 12, Jaylen Nowell 0-2 0-0 0, Torrence Baker 2-6 3-4 7, Reynaldo Cheney 0-0 0-0 0, DeeShawn Tucker 2-5 3-6 7, Kellen Bryan 0-0 0-0 0, Zechariah Shepherd 0-1 0-0 0, Patrick Greeley 1-3 0-0 2, Austin Anderson 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 22-55 20-30 68.
RICHLAND — Jacob DeVries 5-12 2-2 12, Daniel Torres-Elfering 0-0 0-0 0, Mason Nelson 0-1 0-1 0, Drew McCullough 0-1 0-0 0, Nate Perry 0-0 0-0 0, Steven Beo 8-17 4-5 22, Payton Radliff 4-11 2-2 12, JP Leahy 0-0 0-0 0, Nathan Streufert 4-6 3-6 11, Chad Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Carson Miller 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 21-49 13-18 59.
Garfield 17 14 21 16 — 68
Richland 16 12 19 12 — 59
3-point goals—Garfield 4-14 (Isabell 4-8, Agosto 0-4, Nowell 0-1, Anderson 0-1), Richland 4-16, Beo 2-5, Radliff 2-5, DeVries 0-4, Nelson 0-1, Streufert 0-1). Rebounds—Garfield 34 (Isabell 7), Richland 38 (Beo 11). Turnovers—Garfield 6, Richland 15. Fouls—Garfield 19, Richland 22. Fouled out—Radliff