Richland’s Garrett and Earl Streufert look ahead to Friday’s district championship vs. Gonzaga Prep
Some kids are raised in daycare or by a stay-at-home parent. The Streufert boys grew up in a gymnasium.
“For me, what a blessing to have your kids around you all the time,” said Earl Streufert, in his 19th season as Richland High School’s boys basketball head coach and 31st year coaching overall. “I didn’t have to schedule play dates for my kids, because they’re at the greatest babysitter ever, they’re in the gym.”
Garrett Streufert, the third of four sons for Earl and his wife Karen, is a 6-foot-6 junior guard on the 22-0 Bombers hoops squad. His oldest brother, Nathan, was the WIBCA 4A Player of the Year (and an AP All-State first team selection) during his senior season in 2014, leading Richland to its first state championship game in 35 years.
As Nathan was working his way through his youth basketball career, Garrett was right there along for the ride.
“When Nathan was 8 years old, Garrett was 4, so he was sleeping in the ball cart in the gym, shooting balls and playing with the players,” Earl said. “He’s grown up in the gym even more than Nathan did.”
Being the coach’s son can be difficult at times, though perception tends to be much worse than reality when it comes to the Streuferts. Favoritism is assumed, and the thought that playing time is the product of nepotism can be tough to deal with.
Those outside voices tend to ratchet up during rivalry games.
“It hasn’t been that big of a deal, except for when we go to Kamiakin and you start hearing ‘Daddy’s boy, daddy’s boy,’ ” said Garrett, a first team All-MCC selection this year. “That kind of gets me going a little more actually, I get more intense, more adrenaline.”
Garrett said the good heavily outweighs the bad when it comes to having his dad as his high school coach.
“Most of the time, it’s been pretty nice,” he said. “He’s a little bit harder on me than some of the other guys at practice, but he tries to not be biased, like at all.”
That balance took time to develop for Earl. He said he’s more conscious now about not riding Garrett harder than his teammates — as opposed to when Nathan was in school — he accepts feedback readily from assistant coach Bruce Robertson and, most importantly, he’s able to leave basketball business at the gym.
“When you go home, it’s fishing, and hunting, and do your homework, and clean your room, and let’s go throw the football in the yard,” Earl said. “Basketball is just a piece of my kids’ lives. Nathan’s gonna go on to be a doctor, Michael (Nathan’s twin) has gone on to be an engineer. Garrett doesn’t know what he wants to do yet, but the sole focus has never been basketball.”
Earl Streufert echoed the sentiment of his son on how he felt about their player-coach relationship.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said.
SUCCESS FOR STREUFERTS
Garrett has developed himself into a key cog for the Bombers, capable of filling any position on the floor because of his size and athleticism. Earl said he’s always had the ability to put the ball in the right place (averaging nearly six assists per game this season), but his scoring (11.5 points per game), defense and ball handling have come a long way in the past few years.
Nathan’s redshirt sophomore season at Seattle Pacific has been the best of his collegiate career thus far as he’s averaging 9.6 points and a team-best 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks a night for the 14-10 Falcons. He was selected as a team captain for this campaign and was one of eight SPU players on the GNAC All-Academic team, maintaining a 3.76 GPA in physiology.
Michael — who played basketball through his junior season at Richland, but at 6-2 was much closer in stature to his 6-feet-tall father than Nathan (6-8) or Garrett — will graduate from WSU Tri-Cities in May with a degree in mechanical engineering, and will head straight into a job at Energy Northwest.
The youngest brother Brock is in the seventh grade and, as Earl said in a text, the “best shooter in the family other than me.”
CLASH OF THE UNBEATENS
In a potential state championship preview, the Bombers will put their unblemished record on the line in the District 8 4A title game against the GSL champion and fellow unbeaten Gonzaga Prep Bullpups (the top-ranked team in the RPI) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Spokane Arena. It’s Richland’s fifth appearance in the district title game in the past 6 years.
“We’ve seen ‘em a ton,” Earl Streufert said. “We have a lot of tape on them and we’ve played ‘em a ton. We know their guys are super athletic, and strong and physical. We’ll have our work cut out for us, but we put ourselves in a great position, playing in the championship game.”
Led by 6-foot-7 junior Gonzaga-commit Anton Watson, the Bullpups are as athletic as any team in the state, though they’ve struggled to hit outside shots this season, which is thought to be the key to taking down Richland — 14 made 3-pointers allowed Ferris to stick around, but eventually fall to the Bombers 84-79 in the district semis last weekend. Junior Jamaari Jones, sophomore Liam Loyd and senior Sam Lockett (a Division I college football prospect) add punch to G-Prep’s rotation.
Both participants in the district’s 4A championship are already guaranteed regional berths and, because of Richland’s and Gonzaga Prep’s high RPI rankings, trips to the first round of the state playoffs at the Tacoma Dome.
In other Friday games at the Spokane Arena: Top GSL girls teams Central Valley (22-0) and Lewis and Clark (15-5) will clash in the other 4A final at 6 p.m. All other games are winner-to-regionals, loser-out, including the University girls (15-7) vs. Chiawana (19-4) at noon; Walla Walla boys (15-8) vs. Lewis and Clark (15-8) at 1:30 p.m.; Kamiakin-Mt. Spokane girls loser vs. Kennewick (14-9) at 3 p.m.; and Kamiakin-Mt. Spokane boys loser vs. Kennewick (11-12) at 4:30 p.m.