I just watched the Richland boys take apart Wenatchee 72-29 in the first round of the CBBN district basketball playoffs.
I did a blog earlier in the year about how fortunate I was to have covered so many good matchups this year with close finishes. I guess the law of averages caught up with me.
It was a little sad to see, too, because I know when Art Dawald Gym gets going, it can really be a fun place to be. But because of the lopsided score, there really wasn’t that much to cheer about, except some bench players who got to come in and score some points.
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But that got me thinking about what were the best places to watch a game in the area, taking a few different factors into account — structure, tradition, student sections, music, etc.
This is not to say there are any bad places to watch a game. Any game play in front of a packed house gives the home team a decided advantage. Ask Pasco, which had only one win this year, but it came in front of a great home crowd that helped pump up the team.
But all things being equal, there are some gyms that just give the home team just a bit more of an edge.
We'll start with Richland, which I think tops the list. You enter the gym and see all those banners, which speaks to the Bombers' winning tradition. They've got maybe the most loyal fan base in the Tri-Cities, and their student section makes a noticeable difference during games. I like the way they line the far sideline during pregame introductions and greet all the players as they come out.
Kamiakin has emerged as a close second, though. You talk about raucous student sections. You can tell from their outrageous outfits and halftime antics — they tied together a bunch of t-shirts a few weeks ago and put together a couple of super-sized jump ropes — that they love being there, but they also know their basketball. That might be one reason the Braves put together their first undefeated league season in 15 years.
I love the feel of Chiawana’s gym during a big game. And they’ve got a great new facility there, too. Maybe the CBBN’s most exciting game of the year was played there when the Riverhawks beat the Richland boys in overtime in early January.
When the Bombers visit the Riverhawks on Saturday, it should hark back to the good old days of high school basketball, when if Richland and Pasco were playing, you’d better get there early, or you weren’t getting in.
Hanford has always been one of my personal favorites because of the way the fans can watch from above the court at the south entrance. It’s a nice cozy touch that you’re not likely to see too many places.
If you’ve never been to Liberty Christian to see a game, it’s a pretty tight fit, but well worth it. Kind of like a small-town ‘Hoosiers’ kind of feel to it the way the crowd is right on top of you. It’s one of the few courts that offers nearly a 360-degree seating arrangement. The court is situated in the assembly hall and the stage behind the west hoop is opened up as student seating. Pretty cool.