High School Sports

Unlikely shooter keys Chiawana win over Richland

PASCO -- Of all the players on the court, Chiawana's Bianca Gonzales seemed the least likely to hit the biggest shot Friday.

From Hayley Hodgins to Shelby Ellsworth to Mikaela Rivard to Sadie Sparks, the Riverhawks have plenty of options.

But it was the sophomore Gonzales who provided the dagger.

Gonzales hit a 3-pointer to stem a Richland rally as the Riverhawks all but sewed up the CBBN 4A title with a 62-52 victory at home.

"I don't think they were expecting that," Gonzales said. "I was really nervous ... that was a really big shot. The biggest of my life."

Richland had erased most of a 16-point deficit, and after a Mandy Machinal 3-pointer, the Bombers were suddenly within 56-52 with 2 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the game.

Chiawana worked the ball around and eventually found Gonzales standing by herself on the right elbow. She calmly launched the shot, and it hit nothing but net to give the Riverhawks a 59-52 lead they would not relent.

"Our bench kids know their roles," Chiawana coach Steve Davis said. "I put her in to have another 3-point shooter on the court, and when she has an open shot, she comes in and takes it with confidence, and tonight that was huge.

"That was the turning point in us holding on to win."

Gonzales only attempted three shots in the game and was averaging just 2.5 points per contest coming into Friday's showdown with the second-place Bombers.

"If we choose to leave someone open, it will be the player that doesn't play a whole lot," Richland coach Jerry Riggs said. "And she hit the shot. Hats off to her. She sat in the seam and she drilled it.

"It was exactly who we want shooting it, and she hit it."

Up to that point, the game hadn't gone the way either coach wanted.

Chiawana used a 16-2 run to jump out to a 21-8 lead with 6:36 left in the second quarter and led by as many as 15 in the first half, but Richland went on an 8-0 run late in the first half to pull within 35-27 at the break.

"We didn't shoot the ball well in the first quarter," Riggs said. "Then in the second half we shot better, but we turned the ball over. You can do those things and stay in games, but if you want to win against teams like Chiawana, you have to play better."

The Riverhawks closed the third quarter and opened the fourth on a 12-1 run to make a five-point game into a 52-36 lead with 6:49 remaining.

But Richland again went on a run, rattling off a 16-4 run of its own setting up Gonzales' heroics.

"That was a flashback of the first Moses Lake game," Davis said, referring to the Riverhawks' loss at Moses Lake where they let a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead get away. "We get up double digits and let them come back. That's on me as a coach for not having them in good condition."

The game featured plenty of great shot-making as Hodgins was deadly from outside, making six 3-pointers and finishing with a game-high 23 points. Ellsworth added 13 points and Sparks finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Machinal, meanwhile, continually broke down the Chiawana zone, pouring in 21 points for Richland. Katie Mahoney added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Both teams are assured district tournament spots, though Richland needs a win at Moses Lake on Feb. 5 to clinch the No. 2 seed and a bye.

"These are the types of games we need to get them prepared for the Spokane teams and state games," Davis said.

RICHLAND (52)

Anna Croskrey 3 0-0 7, Mandy Machinal 7 3-4 21, Britney Pringle 3 1-3 7, Kennedy Corrigan 1 2-2 4, Katie Mahoney 3 4-4 11, Jalyn Van Oelhoffen 1 0-0 2, Lauren Perry 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-13 52.

CHIAWANA (62)

Sadie Sparks 5 0-0 10, Shelby Ellsworth 6 0-1 13, Melanie Valdez 0 0-0 0, Hayley Hodgins 8 1-2 23, Mikaela Rivard 2 1-2 7, Kendyl Reynolds 0 0-0 0, Bianca Gonzales 1 0-0 3. Totals 24 3-9 62.

Richland 8 19 9 16 -- 52

Chiawana 19 16 15 12 -- 62

3-point goals -- Richland 6 (Machinal 4, Croskrey, Mahoney), Chiawana 11 (Hodgins 6, Rivard 2, Ellsworth, Gonzales). Total fouls -- Richland 13, Chiawana 13. Rebounds -- Richland 29 (Mahoney 11), Chiawana 30 (Sparks 7). Turnovers -- Richland 15, Chiawana 12.

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