Every time it seemed like the Richland High School boys basketball team was going to pull away from Gonzaga Prep at home Friday night in the Mid-Columbia Conference/Greater Spokane League sub-regional championship, the Bullpups had an answer.
Anton Watson scored a game-high 29 points to lead Gonzaga Prep to an 81-80 victory in triple overtime for the title.
“It’s the game to go to the state tournament, man, and I’ve lost state tournament games that didn’t hurt as much as losing the one to go,” Richland coach Earl Streufert said. “So it really hurts for that reason, but I’m pleased with our effort, our intensity, our execution in many ways.
“And geez, that’s a pretty good team we were playing right there.”
When the teams met in Richland on Dec. 27 in the regular season, it was no contest as G-Prep cruised to a 79-51 blowout win.
The No. 2 Bullpups advance to the regional round of state, and are guaranteed a spot in the 12-team tournament in Tacoma. Richland will host Ferris — beat Central Valley 58-55 on Friday — at 6 p.m. Saturday in a loser-out, winner-to-regionals game.
“I’m pretty sure that Ferris and CV didn’t play triple overtime,” Streufert joked. “There’s always a little concern when you lose a real emotional one like that, what you’re gonna come back with. I think they’ll bounce back and be ready to play.”
Richland beat Ferris 64-57 last weekend in the second round of the MCC/GSL playoffs.
The championship was a tour de force for both team’s big men, as Richland’s Riley Sorn had — brace yourself — 14 blocks and 10 boards to go with a dozen points, and Watson hit some huge shots down the stretch to eventually spur the Bullpups (22-1) to victory.
“I thought in the first half (Sorn) didn’t play real well to be honest with you, and I thought he was real active in the second half,” Streufert said. “He was super active, and he played with more aggression defensively.”
G-Prep trailed 61-51 with 2:35 to go in regulation, but back to back 3-pointers by point guard Kea Vargas in the last minute — second was nearly a buzzer-beater — keyed a 12-2 run that tied the score at 63-all and pushed the game to its first OT.
Richland (17-5) was on its heels from the get-go in that first OT period, as it went down by four before Tyler Kurtz hit a layup halfway through the four minute session. Tied at 67-all, the Bullpups got the last possession, which was stifled by two blocks by Sorn to keep the game level.
In the second overtime, a pair of Cole Northrop free throws put Richland up 75-72 with 1:23 to go, and it stayed that way until Watson drained a 3 from the wing to tie the score at 75-all. Northrop missed a one-legged 3 at the other end on the final possession.
The third extra period started the slowest, as it was scoreless until G-Prep’s Sheadon Byrd hit a 3-pointer with 2:30 left. Sorn made four blocks over the course of two possessions at one point to keep the Bombers within three, and the teams both went 3 for 4 from the stripe to make it 81-78 with seven seconds to go.
Cody Sanderson ran coast-to-coast to hit a lay-in and cut the lead to one, but the last 1.5 seconds ticked off the clock before the Bullpups inbounded.
“We’ve been in a lot of big, big games, this one is frustrating because I thought we had it won three different times, I really did,” Streufert said. “We made some young mistakes that cost us the game, but coaches we made some mistakes too, so I don’t want to hang this one on the kids.”
Sanderson was huge for the Bombers on both ends of the floor, as he scored 20 points and was responsible for marking Vargas on defense.
“I thought Cody Sanderson was phenomenal,” Streufert said. “All night long he was covering the best guy on their team, really. I mean, Vargas is the guy that makes them go, and (Sanderson) did a really good job on him.”
The Bullpups only outrebounded Richland 53-46, but they pulled down 22 offensive boards — to Richland’s five — and scored 18 second chance points. Watson had a game-high 17 rebounds, seven on the offensive glass.
Six players had at least nine points for G-Prep.
Northrop scored a team-high 23 points for the Bombers, and he, Kurtz and Sorn each had 10 rebounds. Garrett Streufert dished six assists.
GONZAGA PREP: Vargas 10, Sestero 9, Culp 9, Lockett 10, Byrd 9, Anton Watson 29, Eugenio 3, Jones 2. Totals: 27-85 18-27 81.
RICHLAND: Wagar, Cody Sanderson 20, Tyler Kurtz 16, Mithcell, Cole Northrop 23, Streufert 9, Riley Sorn 12. Totals: 26-59 20-24 80.
17 4 8 6
19 4 8 5
Highlights — GP, Watson 17 rebs, 4 blks. R, Sorn 14 blks, 10 rebs; Kurtz 10 rebs; Northrop 10 rebs; Garrett Streufert 6 asts.
CHIAWANA 66, LEWIS & CLARK 59: Kenedy Cartwright and Kenzie Cordray were both just two points shy of their season-high scoring marks, and the host Riverhawks used a big first-half advantage to extend their season in the Mid-Columbia Conference/Greater Spokane League sub-regional playoffs.
Chiawana will host Gonzaga Prep — lost to Central Valley 69-38 in the championship on Friday — at 5 p.m. Saturday in a winner-to-state, loser-out game.
Cartwright poured in a game-high 21 points to go along with five steals, and Cordray went 6 of 12 from 3-point range for all 18 of her points to lead Chiawana (18-6). The Riverhawks led 20-16 after the opening period, and 32-23 at halftime.
Chiawana sophomore forward Clare Eubanks was dynamic on both ends with 15 points and four blocks.
Jacinta Buckley, Peyton Howard and Dominique Arquette combined for 48 points for the Tigers (14-10). Buckley had five steals and went 7 for 8 from the free-throw line.
LEWIS & CLARK: Bishop 2, Jacinta Buckley 18, Peyton Howard 15, Dominique Arquette 15, Reeves 7, Mikesell 2, Simpson. Totals: 21-56 11-12 59.
CHIAWANA: Morales, Agundis 8, Kenzie Cordray 18, Clare Eubanks 15, Kenedy Cartwright 21, Search, Hirai. Totals: 20-46 17-25 66.
Lewis & Clark
Highlights — LC, Buckley 4 asts, 5 stls, 7x8 FT; Arianna Reeves 4 blks. C, Macey Morales 5 asts, 4 stls; Cartwright 5 stls, 9x12 FTs; Cordray 6x12 3-pt; Eubanks 4 blks.
WAPATO 58, PROSSER 51: The Mustangs fell to the Wolves in the CWAC championship game at Eisenhower High School. Both teams were already guaranteed a spot in the regional round of state.
Prosser is ranked No. 9 in 2A RPI. If the rest of the eight teams in front of the Mustangs (Wapato is No. 7) also make it to regionals, they will host a loser-out game next weekend. Otherwise they will likely go on the road to play a game with the winner getting a bye in the first round of the state tournament, and the loser having to play in the round of 12.
No stats were provided for Friday’s game.