It was business as usual Saturday night over at Art Dawald Gymnasium.
Cole Northrop scored 24 points, Riley Sorn had 16 points and game highs of 10 rebounds and six blocks, and the Richland High School boys basketball team improved on a slow start to blow out visiting Hanford 88-39 in a cross-town MCC matchup.
The victory was Richland’s 14th straight to open the season and eighth in conference play. The Bombers entered the weekend ranked third in the WIAA’s 4A RPI rankings and 15th in the nation, according to the USA Today Super 25 expert poll.
Their closest game in league play this season was a 74-50 win over Walla Walla coming out of winter break, which is still the only one they’ve won by fewer than 35 points. Even though the team isn’t getting much competition from local squads, Richland coach Earl Streufert isn’t worried about his group losing focus as the regular season winds down.
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“The league is what it is,” Streufert said. “It’s not the kids’ fault that we have some talent and that they play really hard. So our focus is on playing every play the best that we can, and we just don’t look up at the score very much. We just run our plays to the best of our ability.
“Traditionally, regardless of talent, our teams have always played that way. And that’s a big part of our success over the years.”
The Bombers starting five proved once again it may be peerless in the state, with tons of talent from top to bottom. In addition to Sorn and Northrop leading the way, Ryan Wagar connected on 4 of 6 3-pointers and had four steals to go along with his 14 points, Cody Sanderson added a dozen points and Garrett Streufert had nine points and a game-high eight assists.
Wagar and Streufert also teamed up for the highlight of the game in the second half as Richland began turning it into a blowout. With 2:30 left in the third quarter, Streufert got the ball on the break and lofted it across the hoop, allowing Wagar to finish the play with a two-handed alley-oop slam to put Richland up 60-31.
Wagar said he’s dunked in games before, but never like this.
“I had one versus Lewis and Clark, one-handed, just came down the floor, dunked it,” he said. “But this one, Garrett threw a great pass. It was an unbelievable pass for me to be able to go up and dunk it.”
The play came in the middle of a 17-0 Bombers’ run to end the third quarter, stretching their lead to 71-31.
Things started pretty well for Hanford (7-7, 4-4). Garrett Streufert picked up a pregame technical foul for dunking during warmups, allowing Connor Woodward to make a pair of free throws to open the game, eventually keying a 4-0 lead out of the gate. Richland then went more than 2 minutes of game time before scoring its first point, but the floodgates opened from there as it scored 12 straight and finished the first quarter up 16-8 and went into the half leading 38-21.
“We put them on the free-throw line a lot early, and that kind of slows the pace down,” Earl Streufert said. “That’s kind of our bugaboo is we foul and put people on the free-throw line, it slows the game down and it’s a rhythm killer for us.”
Woodward knocked down 11 of 12 free throws on the night to lead Hanford with 24 points, and Garrett Horner pulled down seven rebounds. As a team, the Falcons were excellent from the charity stripe, making 17 of 20 attempts.
Hanford: Hosts Southridge on Friday and plays at Kennewick on Saturday.
Richland: gets the league’s bottom two teams next weekend, hosting Pasco (2-12, 1-7) on Friday and playing at Southridge (4-9, 1-7) on Saturday.
HANFORD: Horner 4, DeVine 1, Gosney, Connor Woodward 24, Robinson, Sutey, Izquierdo 6, Milliken, VanderTop 4. Totals: 9-44 17-20 39.
RICHLAND: Guice, Ryan Wagar 14, Cody Sanderson 12, Obermeyer 2, Streufert 9, McCullough 5, Mitchell, Cole Northrop 24, Kimp, Volmer 6, Hofstad, Riley Sorn 16. Totals: 31-58 15-20 88.
Highlights — H, Garrett Horner 7 reb; Woodward 11x12 FT. R, Wagar 4x6 3pt, 4 stl; Garrett Streufert 8 ast; Northrop 6x8 FT, 3 stl; Sorn 10 reb, 6 blk.