Being on a championship football team doesn’t necessarily make you a good basketball player.
But Chiawana guard Dre Dorton is a difference-maker on the basketball court, too.
The 5-foot-10 senior didn’t necessarily fill the stat sheet, but he gave the Riverhawks the lift they needed when they needed it in a 62-58 Mid-Columbia Conference win over Hanford on Friday night in Richland.
Dorton drilled a pair of game-clinching free throws with 15 seconds remaining and made a key fourth-quarter steal to keep Chiawana in the game down the stretch.
“Dre has really blossomed. That confidence he got from football has carried over to basketball, and we need that coming off the bench,” Riverhawks coach Chad Herron said. “Defensively is where he makes a difference for us.”
Things didn’t look too good for Chiawana at first. The Riverhawks missed their first eight shots of the game and fell into a 10-0 hole 4 minutes and 33 seconds in. Jacob Sivonen and Ben Seaman both hit 3-pointers to start things off for Hanford.
But Victor Koval converted a three-point play for Chiawana’s first points of the night, and Dorton came off the bench to grab an offensive rebound and a quick bucket to spark a 15-8 Riverhawks run.
“Your mindset as a coach is you want to start off 16-0,” Falcons coach Paul Mayer said. “But they got some offensive rebounds.”
The teams traded the lead from there. Hanford missed its first five shots of the second quarter, and Brandon Mendoza and Deion Singleton converted baskets to give Chiawana (6-8, 4-4 MCC) its first lead at 19-18 with 5:41 left in the first half.
Singleton also had a strong night, making four steals — three in the third quarter — but Koval and Aaric Wren, plus a big 3-pointer by Brandon Mendoza with 1:48 left, pushed the Riverhawks over the top in the end.
Koval finished with a game-high 15 rebounds and 13 points, while Wren was a steady force throughout with a game-high 19 points.
“As a senior-dominated team, we know we have to stay focused. It’s about everybody knowing their roles — doing what they can do and not what you can’t do,” Wren said.
The Falcons (2-10, 1-6) led 47-45 heading into the fourth quarter, and Sivonen and Kendall Watson scored inside to give Hanford a 51-45 advantage. But Chiawana, after missing the first seven shots of the frame, hit seven of its last 10 shots with Wren and Mendoza combining for 11 points over the final 5:37.
The Riverhawks struggled with their outside shooting, thanks to Hanford’s 2-3 zone defense. Only four of Chiawana’s 24 baskets came from more than 12 feet out, and the Hawks hit just 2-of-19 from 3-point land.
But Herron was pleased, nonetheless, with the effort.
“Our intestinal fortitude really grew tonight. It was nice to see some mental toughness,” Herron said. “We did a better job on Watson in the second half, forcing him to take some wild shots.”
Watson scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half and worked hard on both ends of the court, finishing with nine rebounds and three steals.
But Hanford committed six of their 18 turnovers in the fourth quarter, killing several chances to take control of the game.
“We just need to do rebound better and stop making key turnovers,” Watson said. “We can still turn the season around. We just need guys to make big shots and more guys to rebound.”
Koval and Sivonen certainly didn’t have a problem rebounding. Each player had 10 in the first half alone, and both played a major role in his team’s offense.
Sivonen, a 6-4 junior in his first year of organized basketball, scored 13 of his team-high 18 in the second half, including nine in the third quarter.
“He’s really going to be a good basketball player. I mean, he is a good player, but there’s a lot of room to grow,” Mayer said.
CHIAWANA — Singleton 4 0-0 8, Aaric Wren 7 4-6 19, Mendoza 3 0-0 7, Victor Koval 5 3-3 13, Henderson 2 2-5 6, Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Harris 1 1-2 3, Dorton 2 2-4 6, Grandison 0 0-0 0. Totals 24-72 12-20 62.
HANFORD — Kendall Watson 4 9-11 17, Ben Seaman 5 0-0 12, Heid 0 2-2 2, Mickelson 1 0-2 2, Jacob Sivonen 7 2-4 18, Heiman 1 0-0 2, Hannu 2 0-0 5, Ked.Skinner 0 0-0 0. Totals 20-51 13-19 58.
Chiawana 15 17 13 17 — 62
Hanford 18 11 18 11 — 58
Highlights — 3-pointers: C 2-19 (Wren, Mendoza), H 5-22 (Seaman 2, Sivonen 2, Hannu); Rebounds: C 45 (Koval 15), H 44 (Sivonen 14); Turnovers: C 8, H 18; Assists: C 8 (Harris 2, Mendoza 2, Koval 2), H 6 (Watson 4); Steals: C 9 (Singleton 4), H 7 (Hannu 3).