High School Sports

Richland boys wary of No. 6 seed Wenatchee

RICHLAND -- The No. 6 seed isn't always the worst place to be.

Ask the Green Bay Packers, the recently crowned Super Bowl champions who won back-to-back elimination games in the regular season before their memorable title run.

So if you think the Richland Bombers, the No. 3 seed out of the CBBN 4A, will have an easy matchup against the No. 6 Wenatchee Panthers in the first round of the CBBN 4A district playoffs at 7 p.m. today, think again.

"The playoffs are always interesting. We've been in the No. 6 spot and won some games. We've got to make sure we take care of business," said Richland coach Earl Streufert.

But the veteran coach likes where his team is right now. The Bombers (15-5) have won six of their last seven games and play in one of the most tradition-rich buildings in the Mid-Columbia, Art Dawald Gym.

"We wanted to finish third or fourth and give our fans another chance to go crazy," Streufert said. "You want to be playing your best when you reach the tournament. Momentum is important, but more important is just confidence for when you get in sticky situations."

There's sure to be a few of those this weekend, when the Panthers (7-13) come to town led by senior guard Jared Jaeger (12.8 points per game) and freshman post Dillon Sugg (10.1). The Bombers swept the season series 2-0, holding Sugg to just seven points combined in both games.

"(Grant) Gallinger is a good perimeter defender, so we'll put him on Jaeger," Streufert said. "But they run some stuff that forces you to switch."

Richland is led by Gallinger (14.1) and Calvin Douglas (13.3), but guard Colter Quick (10.6) could provide the biggest matchup problems for Wenatchee. The 6-foot-3 junior has been known to sneak inside for some key points and rebounds.

The winner between the Bombers and Panthers will travel to No. 2 seed Chiawana at 7 p.m. Saturday.

No. 5 seed Moses Lake will go on the road to face No. 4 Walla Walla at 7 p.m. today. The winner will face No. 1 Davis on the road at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Blue Devils swept the Chiefs during the season, but Moses Lake picked up a big home win over CBBN co-champion Davis last Tuesday, eventually forcing the Pirates to share the league title with Chiawana.

In the CBBN 3A playoffs, Hanford will play host at 7 p.m. today to Eastmont, another tough No. 6 seed. The Wildcats (10-10) have lost their last two games but have the talent and potential to make a strong run at any time.

Guards Trea Thomas (15.6) and Darren Spaeth (12.9) lead Eastmont in scoring, and Grady Gausman (9.9) is one of the league's better 3-point threats.

The Falcons (9-11) have won three of their last five and came within a few seconds of beating third-ranked Kamiakin on the road last Friday. They've done a nice job countering the loss of their top outside shooter, Bear Braich, and will have a big advantage inside with 6-3 post Aaron Neary (14.5).

The winner will travel to Kennewick to face Southridge at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Finally, No. 5 West Valley (8-12) will travel to the Lions Den to meet No. 4 Kennewick (9-11) for the right to face No. 1 Kamiakin.

The Rams had lost three in a row heading into the final two weeks before pulling out impressive wins over Sunnyside and Eastmont to get back in the playoff race.

The Lions will get their first home playoff berth since the 2008 season, when Robbie Mitchell led Kennewick into the 3A Eastern Regional playoffs.