RICHLAND -- For the better part of 32 minutes Friday night, the Hanford Falcons took care of their basketball business against the visiting Eastmont Wildcats, cleaning up the glass, limiting the open looks and not giving up easy points off mistakes.
But in a district where most of the teams have been bunched near .500 all season, it only takes a few slips at the very end to undo all that good work.
Eastmont took advantage of a pair of second-chance shots, one following a Hanford turnover, to piece together a seven-point burst in the final 40 seconds and pull out a 50-47 win over the Falcons.
"Hit it right on the head," said Hanford coach Paul Mayer. "We just didn't quite finish the game. We gave up a few offensive rebounds at the end, had two or three really bad turnovers.
"They got a second chance at a couple of shots, and they hit them."
While Hanford finishes at 9-12, Eastmont (11-10) will come back down to the Tri-Cities today for a 7 p.m. tipoff at Southridge (11-9) in the district semifinals.
The loss spoiled a big night for Hanford senior forward Kurt Rueter, who poured in a season-high 25 points while hitting 9 of 16 shots from the floor and 5 of 8 from 3-point land.
It also spoiled a marvelous defensive effort by Cameron Wager, who chased Eastmont guard Trea Thomas all over the court, holding to four points a dangerous player who lit up the Falcons for 20 and 14 points when they played during the regular season.
Thomas averaged 15.6 during the regular season and hit double figures in all but one game.
Darren Spaeth 14, Gausman 13, Sagdal 12, Thomas 4, McDonnell 4, Jahr 3, Fagg. Totals 18-43 7-15 50.
Kurt Rueter 25, Wager, DeVine 13, Nash 1, Neary 6, Funk, Douglas 2, Serkowski. Totals 17-46 5-10 47.
Eastmont 14 8 12 16 -- 50
Hanford 9 19 5 14 -- 47