Richland may not be the top team in the Mid-Columbia Conference, but they are among the fastest.
The Bombers lit up the court for a 25-point second quarter Saturday, holding the Hermiston Bulldogs to just 15, to give them enough distance in the second half to stay ahead and hand the Dawgs a 74-53 Mid-Columbia Conference home loss.
“They’re known for just how fast they are,” Hermiston coach Drew Preuninger said of Richland. “It’s tough on us. We have to work on our transitional defense. That hurt us a little bit. And their speed hurt us a little bit, too.”
The Bulldogs trailed just 14-10 at the first quarter’s buzzer, but the Bombers came to life in the second, shooting a combined 7-for-8 at the free-throw line and getting key 3-pointers from Andrew Albrecht and Jase Vopalensky.
Junior Miguel Moreno and sophomore Tyler Lin both went 2-for-2 at the line for Hermiston in the second quarter, and sophomore guard Chase Elliott hit a 3-pointer and a basket to contribute five points to his team’s 15 for the quarter, but the Dawgs still trailed 39-25 at the half.
“At the beginning, we started our 1-3-1 that helped us a lot,” Preuninger said, “but then (Richland) started hitting 3s. It was tough to match up with them.”
Richland outscored Hermiston 20-13 in the third quarter to stay well ahead. The Bombers strung together a five-point streak with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to threaten a 30-point advantage at 70-44, but Hermiston closed out the game with a seven-point run, capped off by a trey at the buzzer from freshman Dax Davis.
Senior Trent Pitney led the Bulldogs (2-16, 1-13 MCC) with 15 points on the night. Elliott followed with 11. Richland (11-8, 8-7 MCC) got a game-high 17 points from Vopalensky.
“They’ve mastered their run-and-gun game,” Pitney said of the Bombers. “It was nice to watch, but it wore us out. They’re a great team.”