Justin Smith has been in the proverbial "zone" before.
The Chiawana senior scored 39 points in a junior varsity game as a sophomore and a season-high 33 last season.
But after Smith scored a career-high 44 points in the Riverhawks' 91-87 overtime win over Richland, "the zone" may have to redefine its terms.
On Friday night, the zone was rooted squarely in Justin's house.
"I've never had 40," Smith said. "It was great to play in a game like this with the crowd so alive."
The 5-foot-11 guard hit from almost every spot on the floor, including five shots from 3-point range and three clutch free throws with just under 8 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 77 and send thee game into overtime.
"The way he was playing, I told the coaches he was going to hit all three," Chiawana coach Chad Herron said.
The free throws capped a 17-point fourth-quarter effort from Smith, but he added nine more in overtime, including all four free throws in the final 30 seconds of overtime to help secure the win.
"That's the single-best offensive performance I've seen since I've been coaching," said Herron, who coached Pasco for eight seasons before taking over the Riverhawks in 2009. "He's worked so hard the last couple of years. He worked on his mid-range game over the summer, and it's showed."
The game had as much drama as fans would have hoped from a cross-river rivalry. Smith hit a 3-pointer from the left wing off an assist by Jordan Downing to give Chiawana a 29-22 lead with 6:28 left in the second quarter, but neither team led by more than six points from then on.
Richland pulled ahead 52-46 on Colter Quick's 3-pointer from the right corner with 3:01 left in the third quarter, and the Bombers finished the frame with a 57-54 lead.
But the fourth quarter is when Smith started to roll. He started with a trey from the right wing to tie the score at 57. He hit another at the 5:53 mark to tie it at 61. Then Smith scored Chiawana's final 12 points of the quarter, including another 3-pointer after Richland guard Adam Baker gave him a little too much room at the top of the key.
"Sometimes guys will start to shoot like that, and it doesn't matter who you have guarding them," said Bombers coach Earl Streufert, whose team fell to 0-2 in the CBBN.
"You can't worry about it, because what are you going to do?" he said. "We are so much better today than we were a week ago. I felt we really played to our strengths tonight."
One of those strengths was senior guard Grant Gallinger, who led Richland with 28 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. He made things exciting in the fourth quarter, trading long jumpers with Smith during a furious fourth-quarter rally.
Miquiyah Zamora came up big on the defensive end in the final 2 minutes of overtime, blocking shots from Gallinger and Calvin Douglas to snuff potential Bombers' scoring opportunitites. Both times, Smith answered with points on the other end as the Riverhawks pulled away with a 9-2 run to end the game.
"We'll get 'em next time," said Calvin Douglas, who added 24 points and 15 rebounds for Richland. "There's not ever a time to panic. They made some really good shots."