WALLA WALLA - The first half of the Big Nine girls matchup between Richland and Wa-Hi on the Blue Devils' court Friday night went just as the home team had hoped.
"I thought we played one of our best halves of basketball in the first half," Wa-Hi coach Jill Meliah said of the 25-24 Bombers' halftime edge. "I was really proud in the first half, we played really well.
"At halftime, we talked about how huge the third quarter was going to be, and I felt we just came out flat, and that can't happen."
Richland took advantage of Wa-Hi mistakes in the final 16 minutes to outscore the Blue Devils 41-25 in and roll to the 66-49 victory.
"We got down eight, and started hanging our heads and not playing as hard, and it just exploded to 15 before we even knew it," Meliah said of Wa-Hi's second half. "I don't think Richland did anything different. I think it was us. we didn't go to the free throw line in the second half. We stopped attacking. We started settling for jumpers. We stopped taking care of the ball.
"Richland's a good team, and they're going to take advantage of any mistakes we make," she said. "I felt like, in the second half, we stopped playing our kind of basketball."
The Blue Devils opened the game grabbing a quick four-point lead behind Gabby Anderson's two buckets.
But the Bombers answered right back behind Mandy Machinal's three-point play and two treys to open up an 11-4 lead.
Maddie Jacobsen's layin and putback, and Torri Crawford's deuce, pulled Wa-Hi to a 12-10 margin after the first quarter.
Richland again jumped on the Blue Devils early in the second quarter for a 17-10 edge, but Wa-Hi answered right back. Libbie Jimenez scored two buckets, and Jaiden Hodnefield hit the first of her three 3-pointers in the game to lift the Blue Devils to an 18-17 lead with three and a half minutes left in the half.
The Bombers had an answer of their own, with Katie Mahoney's trey giving them a 22-18 lead a minute later. Crawford and Jimenez scored to tie the game at 22-all, and Sydney Christensen's bucket in the closing seconds of the half left the halftime score 25-24 Richland.
Wa-Hi stayed with the Bombers through half of the third quarter, taking a pair of one-point leads midway through the third on two Crawford scores.
But a Britney Pringle 3-pointer followed by Anna Croskrey's deuce started a Richland run that left the Blue Devils behind.
"It's having a young team, but we've got to figure that out," Meliah said of the Blue Devils' second half. "We've gotten a lot better from the beginning of the year. We just need to continue to get better.
"Right now, I don't think it's necessarily skill-wise that we need to get better," she said. "Right now our mental part of the game has to improve. And it has to improve quickly if we're going to make a run at the playoffs."
Wa-Hi played at Moses Lake Saturday night.
Richland 66, Wa-Hi 49
RICHLAND (66) - Croskrey 1-1 0-0 2, Machinal 9-11 5-7 26, Pringle 1-5 4-6 7, Von Oelhoffen 3-7 3-6 10, Corrigan 3-4 0-0 6, Manning 0-0 0-0 0, Perry 1-3 0-0 2, Mahoney 3-6 6-9 13, Parnell 0-0 0-0 0, Duckworth 0-0 0-0 0, Cejika 0-0 0-0 0, DeWitt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-37 18-28 66.
WA-HI (49) - Klicker 0-2 0-1 0, Jacobson 4-6 0-0 8, Crawford 4-5 0-1 8, Jimenez 3-8 0-0 6, Christensen 1-3 0-0 2, Greene 2-2 0-2 4, Hamada 1-6 0-0 3, Molitor 1-3 0-0 2, Hodnefield 3-7 1-2 10, Anderson 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 22-47 1-6 49.
Rich 12 13 20 21 - 66
Wa-Hi 10 14 11 14 - 49
3-point goals - Rich 6-9 (Machinal 3, Pringle, Von Oelhoffen, Mahoney), Wa-Hi 4-11 (Hamada, Hodnefield 3). Total fouls - Rich 13, Wa-Hi 20. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Rich 20 (Pringle 3, Mahoney 3), Wa-Hi 30 (Crawford 8). Turnovers - Rich 9, Wa-Hi 13. Assists - Rich 0, Wa-Hi 4 (Hamada 2, Molitor 2).