If Nathan Streufert ever feels like digging into a free Blizzard from Dairy Queen, he might try to tempt his father, Richland basketball coach Earl Streufert, into a quick game of 1-on-1.
If Nathan manages to work the ball inside the paint against his dad, the 6-foot-7 Bombers’ junior might as well start calling in the order.
“He likes to call fouls on me,” his father said. “We don’t play much anymore, because he takes me inside and it’s pretty much over.”
But if Earl, a former standout guard at Walla Walla, can find his rhythm from outside ... sorry, son.
“Yeah, he’s usually the victor,” Nathan said. “I don’t know if I could ever play like him. Catch and shoot with deep range.”
When they’re not playing 1-on-1, the father-son team are working together to send Richland back to the Class 4A state basketball tournament, a place the Bombers haven’t been since 2008.
They’ve been close, mind you. For the last four seasons, Richland has been one win away from a state appearance. Last season, three of the Bombers’ 10 losses came against 4A state champion Davis. Two more came against Central Valley, the 4A runner-up.
This season, Richland could be celebrating a return to the Tacoma Dome, and the versatile wing will be at the center of that effort.
“Like any high school kid, we want to win a state championship. We made the district championship game the last three years. We lost twice in a row, but we want to win it again,” Nathan said. “We want to make it as far as we can.”
Nathan was the Bombers’ top post player last season, averaging 10 points and over eight rebounds a game in his first full season on varsity. He was expected to see quite a few minutes as a freshman, but a stress fracture in his back put him out for the season.
Last year, Nathan emerged as one of the most consistent and dependable players in the league, earning second-team all-CBBN honors, and he only got better as the season went on.
“He showed great resiliency in coming back after his freshman year,” his father said. “He held himself to a pretty high standard. He learned some lessons early on from some pretty good players, but as a coach I’m proud of the fact he persevered and turned into a leader at the end of the year.”
One of Nathan’s biggest games came against Chiawana in the CBBN 4A district consolation round. Not only did Streufert score 19 points and record a game-high four steals, but he stepped into the lane to draw a pair of charging calls against CBBN co-MVP Miquiyah Zamora to help set the tone for a 72-63 Bombers’ win.
“He hunts those (charges) pretty hard,” Earl said. “Those are emotional plays — almost like a dunk for the defense. It’s a great thing to rally around.”
Nathan enjoys having his father as coach, not only because of their strong relationship, but also because he knows he’s tough enough to take some heat if his dad needs to make a point.
“Being a coach’s kid, you’re going to get pushed a lot harder, but I certainly enjoy having my dad around,” he said. “He treats me like the rest of the guys.
“We still have our fights. I’ll backtalk him on the court during practice, yell at him, shake my head.”
His dad doesn’t mind a minor rebellion once in a while, as long as his son continues to work the way he has on both ends of the court.
“He’s always been a team player. He’ll tell you it’s the guys around him that make a difference. He’s very unselfish that way,” Earl said. “He’s never going to be a guy with a really high scoring average, because he’d rather look to pass.
“He’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
After a full off-season of work with his AAU team, Nathan could be even more dangerous. He spent much of the spring and summer on his perimeter game, honing his shooting skills for whenever the Bombers need to open things up.
“I was one of the smaller guys on my AAU team,” he said. “Guard play was one thing I was struggling with and really needed to work on.”
With an improved perimeter game, maybe Nathan can start matching his dad shot-for-shot from the outside.
Dairy Queen, here we come.