WALLA WALLA - The Wa-Hi Blue Devils boys basketball team held the Richland Bombers to just 18 second-half points and shot 71 percent from the field after halftime to take a 43-42 victory Friday night.
"We defended well in the second half," said Wa-Hi coach John Golden. "We really got after it with defense and that is what won the game."
The halftime score was 24-19 Bombers.
The Blue Devils battled back in the second half.
Seven steals in the second half alone helped Wa-Hi to the victory. In the game, the Blue Devils had 10 steals and four blocked shots.
"We turned up the pressure in the second half and forced them to take bad shots at the end," Golden said. "We gutted out another win and that is probably how it is going to be with my team this year."
A bucket inside by Matt Watson early in the third quarter cut the lead to three.
Seth Alden hit 1-of-2 free throws for Wa-Hi to cut the Bombers' lead two.
A hoop on a dribble-drive and two free throws by Richland's J.J. Patterson extended the lead to six with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Moe Handcox hit a jumper from the left corner to make the score 28-24, Richland.
A steal and fastbreak bucket by Grant Gallinger made it 30-24, and Shakeem Lakes' jumper from the left side pushed the lead to eight.
Wa-Hi's Alden then got a steal, missed a lay-up, and teammate Watson got the rebound and putback.
A miss by Richland led to another Watson rebound and an outlet to Alden for the fastbreak hoop to pull the Blue Devils within 32-28.
A 3-pointer from the right corner at the third-quarter buzzer by the Bombers' Michael Burke made the score 35-28 going into the fourth quarter.
"They shot the 3-pointer well," Golden said. "We just tried to keep it in striking distance for the end, so that we could make a push and win."
A jumper by Handcox and four free throws by Richland's Adam Baker increased the deficit to nine points early in the fourth. The deficit tied the biggest lead of the game for the Bombers at the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils responded with a 13-3 run to close the game and win.
The Bombers scored just seven points in the final quarter and 18 in the second half.
"Defensively, I was impressed with how the kids played," Golden said. "Anytime you hold a team to 18 points in the whole second half, it is good. Especially against a team like Richland."
Alex Ceron led the way for the Blue Devils in the final 13-point scoring run with six points.
In the final six minutes, Wa-Hi dished out four of its team's nine assists. They also had two big steals and one big forced turnover.
After Wa-Hi charged back to take its first lead of the game at 43-42 on the bucket inside by Ceron assisted by Handcox, the Bombers had the ball and 20 seconds left to take back the lead.
The Bombers got the ball past halfcourt and into the right corner of the 3-point line. Handcox tapped it away and Alden knocked it off a Bomber player out of bounds for Wa-Hi to regain possession with nine seconds remaining.
Richland finally fouled Handcox after attempting to steal the ball back with three seconds left.
Handcox missed the front end of a 1-and-1 penalty shot opportunity, but the three seconds remaining weren't enough time for the Bombers to get off a good shot.
Richland's Burke rebounded the Handcox miss and heaved it from halfcourt towards the hoop to miss badly at the buzzer.
The Blue Devils improved 1-0 in league, 4-3 overall, as Richland dropped to 0-1 and 3-2.
In the game, Alden went for 15 points, and Watson had 12 points and seven boards. Handcox added six points and six rebounds. Ceron had eight total points.
Wa-Hi played again Saturday night in Moses Lake.
Wa-Hi 43, Richland 42
RICHLAND (42) - Turner 0-2 0-00, Baker 2-7 3-3 9, Patterson 1-4 2-2 4, Burke 1-5 0-0 3, Gallinger 4-10 2-2 12, Lakes 3-4 0-0 6, Quick 3-12 0-0 8, Imhoff 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 14-47 8-8 42.
WA-HI (43) - Toon 0-0 0-0 0, Ceron 3-7 2-2 8, Swenson 0-0 0-0 0, Handcox 3-6 0-1 6, Peasley 0-0 0-0 0, Eggers 0-0 0-0 0, Campeau 0-0 0-0 0, Alden 6-13 1-2 15, Dunovant 0-0 2-2 2, Ferenz 0-1 0-2 0, Watson 6-10 0-1 12. Totals 18-37 5-10 43.
Richland 14 10 11 7 - 42
Wa-Hi 8 11 9 15 - 43
3-point goals - Rich 6 (Baker, Burke, Gallinger 2, Quick 2), Wa-Hi 2 (Alden 2). Total fouls - Rich 11, Wa-Hi 8. Fouled out - Rich (Gallinger). Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Wa-Hi 29 (Watson 7), Rich 26 (Gallinger 5). Turnovers - Wa-Hi 20, Richland 15. Assists - Wa-Hi 9 (Handcox 3), Rich 4.