Riley Sorn always had the frame of a superstar talent on the hardwood. In the past couple of years, he’s certainly played like it.
You can add Tri-City Herald All-Area Player of the Year to the résumé of Richland’s 7-foot-4 senior center, along with MVP honors on the All-Mid-Columbia Conference and Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association 4A All-State teams in this season alone.
“You could say all this stuff means a lot to me, because it does. It’s a great honor to win all these awards, and I feel like I’ve earned it,” Sorn said. “But I’m just gonna keep doing me, ya know? I’m just gonna keep playing my game. Keep getting better. I definitely appreciate all this stuff, but nothing is going to change.”
That game, particularly his defense in the middle of Richland’s zone, helped the Bombers set the pace in games for the past few years. He set a 4A state tournament record with 30 blocks in four games last year, averaged nearly four swats per contest this season, and just flat-out made it tough for opponents to score anywhere near the basket.
But what set him apart, especially this year, was what he was able to do when Richland had the ball. No longer just a threat to dunk it, his touch around the basket — and the occasional mid-range jump shot — allowed him to average 16 points per game, putting him in the top five of the conference in scoring.
“He was instrumental on both ends,” said Earl Streufert, the All-Area Boys Coach of the Year. “We had a guy that we could throw it to in the block every trip down and you had to guard him, you had to respect him. He was invaluable.”
With Sorn’s two-way play in the post and one of the state’s best starting five, the Bombers enjoyed one of their greatest seasons in Streufert’s 19th year at the helm. They won the Great Western Shootout in Orem, Utah, by beating touted Wasatch Academy in the championship game — Sorn called the whole trip the highlight of the season — which earned them a national ranking and paved the way for 22 straight wins to open the season.
It was a nearly perfect senior campaign.
“I really got everything I wanted out of the year, short of a state title,” said Sorn, whose Bombers fell to eventual champ Gonzaga Prep in a state semifinal that went to overtime, and then dropped their consolation game to Lewis and Clark. It was the second straight year they took fifth at the state tourney. “Really couldn’t have asked for anything more, other than that ring.”
It’s bigger and better things on the horizon now for Sorn. He’ll compete in his third and final All-Star game of the season for the WIBCA team in the Merritt Truax Northwest Shootout (April 14 at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Ore.), then turn his attention to college ball.
He’s narrowed his college decision down to two choices, Washington and Saint Mary’s, both of which are high-powered, Division I programs. As far as Sorn’s game has come in the past few years, there’s still work to be done before he can be effective at the next level.
“Defensive end, I have to get quicker on my feet, but there are definitely big guys that I feel like I could guard today,” he said. “I might not be as strong as them, but I feel like I have a skill set I could bring now. When I’m going to be 100 percent is definitely going to be when I have the summer to get in the weight room and bulk up a little bit.”
GREEN AND GOLD ALL OVER FIRST TEAM
Undefeated league champs once again and a second straight fifth-place finish at state, Richland sports four of the five members on the All-Area boys first team.
Joining Sorn are juniors Cole Northrop (the MCC’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game) and Garrett Streufert, and fellow senior and defensive extraordinaire Ryan Wagar. Junior point guard Cody Sanderson is on the second team.
Even with two big pieces departing, neither Sorn nor coach Streufert foresee a major drop off for the 2018-19 Bombers, if the next class is willing to put in the work.
“Every time we’re at the state tournament, somebody says we’re not gonna be as good the next year. And then we’re there almost every year,” Streufert said. “I think we’ll be exceptional next year. ... We’ll be able to do a lot more with our versatility, and in a lot of ways I think we’ll be better offensively.”
Added Sorn: “I know they’re gonna be hungry, because everyone’s gonna tell them, ‘Oh, you don’t have that 7-footer anymore. You guys are gonna suck.’ We’ve been through that before. When we lost (Steven) Beo (now at BYU), they said you’re not gonna have the shooters. We lost (Tyler) Kurtz, you’re not gonna have this guy. You always have guys you’re gonna lose. This year it’s me and Wags, and I don’t think we’re gonna be missed as much as people say we are.”
Rounding out the All-Area first team is Garrett Paxton, who became Kamiakin’s all-time leading scorer in the regular-season finale, surpassing Steve White’s career record. Paxton signed to play with Whitworth University earlier this month.
TOURE GETS 2ND POTY NOD
Oumou Toure tore up MCC competition once again this year, becoming Kamiakin’s all-time leading scorer for girls and boys while helping guide the Braves to a 23-3 record and their second straight fourth-place state finish. She’s the Herald’s All-Area Girls Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
Toure (who averaged 24.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game) is joined on the first team by teammate and fellow junior Alexa Hazel (15.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3 assists). The duo has led Kamiakin to three consecutive state places (fifth in 2015) and next year will try to deliver Kamiakin its first girls hoops title since 1985.
Tri-Cities Prep went 19-7 this season while winning its first league title and appearing at the state tournament for the first time in its history. Freshman phenom Talia von Oelhoffen averaged nearly 28 points per game with 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals, and is on the All-Area first team. Jaguars coach Joe Mackay is the All-Area Coach of the Year.
Also on the first team is senior Kenedy Cartwright, who helped Chiawana earn a share of the MCC title by ending Kamiakin’s 27-game winning streak in conference play. The Riverhawks came one game shy of reaching regionals for the third straight year, falling to University in the district consolation final.
Kennewick’s 6-4 senior post Alicia Oatis is the final member of the All-Area first team. Her size always made her a problem for opponents, but she put it together on the offensive end this year as well to the tune of 17.6 points per game, second only to Toure in the conference. Under first-year coach Daron Santo, the Lions went 14-10 this season (5-14 in 2016-17, no winning seasons in the past decade) and were one game away from regionals.
2018 ALL-AREA BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
Player of the Year: Riley Sorn, Sr., C, Richland. Coach: Earl Streufert, Richland.
First team: Riley Sorn, Sr., C, Richland; Cole Northrop, Jr., G, Richland; Ryan Wagar, Sr., G, Richland; Garrett Paxton, Sr., G, Kamiakin; Garrett Streufert, Jr., G/F, Richland.
Second team: Cody Sanderson, Jr., PG, Richland; Jenner Norwood, Sr., F, Kennewick; Champ Grayson, Sr., G, Kamiakin; Matthew Kroner, Sr., P, Chiawana; Stefan Geist, Sr., G, Tri-Cities Prep.
Honorable mention: Nolan Chase, Jr., G, Connell; Austin Penny, Sr., G, Chiawana; Reece Humphreys, Sr., G, Columbia (Burbank); Kobe Singleton, So., G, Tri-Cities Prep; Tyler Greene, Sr., G, Walla Walla; Taylor Hamada, Jr., G, Walla Walla.
2018 ALL-AREA GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM
Player of the Year: Oumou Toure, Jr., G/F, Kamiakin. Coach: Joe Mackay, Tri-Cities Prep.
First team: Oumou Toure, Jr., G/F, Kamiakin; Talia von Oelhoffen, Fr., PG, Tri-Cities Prep; Alexa Hazel, Jr., G, Kamiakin; Kenedy Cartwright, Sr., G, Chiawana; Alicia Oatis, Sr., C, Kennewick.
Second team: Marissa Cortes, Jr., G, Prosser; Nicole Gall, Jr., G, Richland; Aaliyah Anderson, Sr., G, River View; Macey Morales, Jr., G, Chiawana; Clare Eubanks, Jr., P, Chiawana.
Honorable mention: Meilani McBee, So., F, Kennewick; Ali Martineau, Sr., PG, Columbia (Burbank); Maddie Godwin, Jr., Liberty Christian; Faith Hoe, Sr., PG, Walla Walla; Bella Gutierrez, Sr., G, Pasco; Chanceler Williams, Sr., F, Kamiakin.