KENNEWICK -- Tony Reiboldt didn't even wait for the question.
After talking to his troops following Friday night's 32-31 overtime loss to Wenatchee, the Southridge football coach wasted no time before explaining his decision to go for a two-point conversion after Matt Mendenhall's 9-yard scramble that pulled the Suns within an extra-point kick.
"No doubt about it, when (Wenatchee) scored, we were going for two," Reiboldt declared.
The try -- a run up the gut by Dallin Palmer -- ended a few feet short and with the visiting Panthers celebrating at Lampson Stadium.
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No doubt the loss, along with Southridge's flaccid first-half effort, will be sticking points come Monday's film session. But the Suns' fluid play in the second half -- on both sides of the ball -- as well as a boldness to match their coach will count for quite a bit.
"It really showed the resiliency of the kids," Reiboldt said of his team coming back from a 17-3 halftime hole, dug thanks to Wenatchee's almost 100-yard advantage in total offense.
But the Suns took over in the second half, with Mendenhall throwing for 119 yards on 9-of-18 passing, A.J. Henderson catching four balls for 85 yards and Chris Haueter running for a pair of scores.
It all started with Palmer's 76-yard kickoff return right out of the chute that set the table for Haueter's 22-yard TD gallop.
After the two teams traded three-and-outs, the Suns got another big play when Cooper Helm's high-arching pass down the sideline to Keaton Smith, one a trio of tall receivers for Wenatchee, was picked off by Southridge free safety Jon Snider, his second bingo of the night.
"As soon as that ball was in the air, I could tell it had plenty of airtime on it," said Snider, who set up the Suns offense on its own 39.
The drive appeared to stall at midfield, but Mendenhall found Henderson running down the middle of the field on third-and-15, and the senior receiver went airborne for a 24-yard grab.
On the next play, Haueter broke off a second scoring run, this time from 16 yards out.
Meanwhile, Southridge's defense put the Panthers on ice, with linebackers Haueter, Chance White and Caleb Osborne roving the field and making plays. Wenatchee, led by the running and throwing of Helm, rolled up 220 yards in the first half but mustered only 104 in the second, with nearly half of that coming on one pass and in overtime.
"We have great coaches, and at halftime they told us exactly what we had to do," Snider said.
Mostly, it involved closing up the middle after giving up 128 yards on the ground in the first half on easy stuff like dives and QB sneaks.
Haueter's second score gave the Suns a brief 18-17 lead, and Wenatchee went ahead on its next possession. Southridge then drove 70 yards for a tying score, with Palmer converting a fourth-and-7 fake punt and Henderson hauling in a 41-yard grab even more acrobatic than his previous catch.
"It feels good for a first-game effort," Reiboldt said. "But we're playing to win every single game."
* Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403; firstname.lastname@example.org
Wenatchee 32, Southridge 31 (OT)
Wenatchee 14 3 0 8 7 -- 32
Southridge 0 3 15 7 6 -- 31
W--Jared Jaeger 12 pass from Cooper Helm (Angel Guerra kick)
W--Helm 2 run (Guerra kick)
S--FG Conner Mertens 30
W--FG Guerra 18
S--Chris Haueter 22 run (Mertens kick)
S--Haueter 16 run (Haueter run)
W--Connor Black 13 pass from Helm (Helm run)
S--Dallin Palmer 2 run (Mertens kick)
W--Helm 4 run (Guerra kick)
S--Matt Mendenhall 9 run (run fail)
RUSHING--W, Helm 14-64, Nolan Jonston 17-46, Noah Fenhaus 9-46, Team 1-(minus 8). S, Haueter 12-66, Palmer 11-61, Mendenhall 5-6, Chance White 1-6, Mike McAdie 1-(minus 2), Team 1-(minus 1).
PASSING--W, Helm 14-24-2-176. S, 13-27-1-215.
RECEIVING--W, Jaeger 5-63, Keaton Smith 4-80, Rawley Holmberg 2-11, Black 1-13, Fenhaus 1-11, Jonston 1-8. S, A.J. Henderson 5-96, Jon Buffington 3-49, Palmer 3-10, Josh Richards 1-45, Mikey Sanchez 1-15.
FIRST DOWNS--W 18, S 14. FUMBLES-LOST--W 1-0, S 3-1. PENALTIES-YARDS--W 6-36, S 8-46.