The Richland boys basketball team has always been known for its scrappy defense.
The Bombers have also been known to put quite a few points on the board from time to time.
This season, with an output of nearly 90 points a game and four players averaging at least 12 points a game, Richland (9-0, 4-0 Mid-Columbia Conference) has a chance to reach uncharted heights as far as program history goes.
It’s a rare feat for any high school team to break the 90-point barrier, but the Bombers have already done it four times this season. Even more unusual is hitting the century mark, which Richland has done twice through its first nine games.
The Bombers topped Chiawana 108-78 on Jan. 3 and beat Hanford 102-69 the following night. That was 27 years after Richland last hit 100 points in a 100-66 win over Moses Lake in 1987.
“Richland is blessed with some really good scorers. They’ve got a good inside-outside game and play good defense,” said former Kamiakin coach Don Schumacher, who won 322 games over 21 years in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. “Not only are they good at scoring, but they’re also good at getting the ball back.”
Asked how he might scheme against Richland during a game, Schumacher said a team could only hope to slow them down a bit.
“You have to play a little of the clock, taking as much of your 35 seconds as you can and hope you can keep things close,” he said. “But if you try to run with them, there aren’t a lot of teams on this side of the mountains that can stay with them.”
Ironically, Bombers coach Earl Streufert feels that one of the biggest reasons for his team’s high output on offense is because his players are so willing to let someone else score.
“The guys are so unselfish. Right now we’re very good about getting out and running hard, and they aren’t so wrapped up in scoring,” Streufert said. “I knew we could push the ball and stretch the defense. We’re kind of unique in that anybody who gets a rebound can push it.”
The Bombers have broken the 100-point barrier just 14 times in school history dating back to 1910. But those dates are few and far between. The first instance of a Bombers team hitting 100 points came during the 1955-56 season, when Art Dawald led Richland to a 101-65 mid-season win over Hermiston. That was 46 years after the Bombers’ first-recorded game in 1910.
Since then, a few Bombers’ squads have reached 100 points — some more than once. The 1978 team, in coach Phil Neill’s first season, hit the century mark three times and averaged 76.8 points a game on their way to a fourth-place finish at the Class AAA state tournament.
The next year, with many of the same players, Richland averaged 79.3 points a game. That team hit 100 points on back-to-back nights in wins over Walla Walla and Wenatchee and went on to win the second state championship in school history.
Streufert knows that a high scoring output doesn’t necessarily equal a high finish at the state tournament, but he’s pleased with his players’ willingness to respond to coaching and follow a true team concept.
The Bombers’ three top scorers — Payton Radliff (20.8 points per game), Nathan Streufert (18.8) and Jacob DeVries (15.0) — have all cleared 30 points in a game this season, and there’s no reason to think that a few other teammates could have big games as well.
“There are guys that are capable,” coach Streufert said. “Right now, we’re sharing the ball so well it’s surprising when it happens.”
Even Streufert is amazed at the pace of the game sometimes.
“Sometimes we’ll get 80 possessions in a game. It’s crazy,” he said. “But we’ve been getting better at a lot of different things, too. Some team’s we’ve played we had to adjust to.”