WALLA WALLA - On to state.
Dayton won a rough and tumble battle with Riverside Christian here Friday in regional 2B boys basketball action to earn a state 2B ticket.
The teams combined for 40 fouls, shot a combined 54 free throws and posted 39 turnovers, but the only statistic that counts showed Dayton 59, Riverside Christian 41.
"It was more of a football game than a basketball game," Bulldog coach Roy Ramirez said. "It was a tough game, grabbing and pushing - it was kind of ugly.
"They were quick and physical," Ramirez added. "I was pretty confident that they (the Crusaders) hadn't seen a defense like ours, and that we could shut them down. For the most part, we did."
Three ties and three lead changes led to a Bulldog 12-10 advantage after one period.
Tucker Jones, who led the Crusaders with 14 points, hit a bucket with 6:03 left in the half to give Riverside Christian its last lead of the night at 16-15. 30 seconds later, a pull-up jumper by Garett Turner put the Bulldogs on top for good at 17-16.
A Richard Haas field goal cut the Dayton lead to 21-20 with 3:50 left in the half. The Dayton defense went to work. The Crusaders went eight minutes without a field goal, only a Luke Vickers' free throw broke the streak, until Vickers ended the drought with 3:50 left in the third.
After Haas' second-period bucket, Dayton got a Joey Schlachter 2, a Turner free throw, a Hayden Fullerton coast-to-coast drive and a deuce from Turner to close out the first half and take a 28-21 lead to intermission.
"Our defense has led to our offense all season," Turner said. "We did a good job with that little run and it gave us a spark."
Dayton opened the second half with a Turner trey, the only 3 of the game, and Turner followed that with a bucket before Vickers answered, but it was too late for the Crusaders as Dayton jumped the lead to 33-23.
"We really locked down," Ramirez said of the Bulldog defense over the eight-minute run. "For us, that's where it starts with defense. The boys did a good job."
Two Colton Bickelhaupt free throws, two Turner free throws and a Schlachter basket off a Bickelhaupt dish sent the Bulldogs to the fourth with a 39-29 lead.
"We got into our sets, and I got a couple of looks and made one (the 3 to open the third)," Turner said of the Bulldog third quarter. "We got out of what we usually do offensively and lacked execution at times, but overall we got enough points to win the game."
Both teams lacked offensive execution over the final eight minutes and the match turned into a free throw shooting contest. Turner hit four consecutive from the charity stripe to run the Dayton lead to 43-29 with 6:46 left.
Dayton scored four buckets in the quarter, two each from Schlachter and Fullerton, but the Bulldogs, led by Turner's 7-of-10, knocked down 12-of-19 free throw opportunities.
The Crusaders had no answer to the Bulldog defense as they hit two-of-17 from the field over the last eight minutes, but converted eight-of-12 free throws.
18 fouls in the quarter, 31 free throws, but Dayton survived and stretched the lead to the 59-41 final.
"It was a rough game," Turner said. "We play tough defense and it gets rough, as it has all season. We did a good job of handling our composure."
The Bulldogs played much of the way without starting post Kroft Sunderland and guard Bickelhaupt who were hampered all night with foul trouble.
"We had some guys step up," Ramirez said. "Cruz (Ramirez) and Jacob (McCleary) came in and did a good job defensively. All the guys that were in there played well. It was a good team effort."
Turner converted 10-of-14 free throws and led all scorers with 23 points. Fullerton finished with 16 points, and Schlachter posted a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
"We like getting the ball inside to him (Kroft Sunderland)," Turner said of Sunderland's role. "Tonight, he was in foul trouble and Joey (Schlachter) stepped up big."
The win earns the Bulldogs, 23-1 on the season, their first state trip since 1995. Dayton opens state tourney action Thursday in Spokane, opponent and time to be determined by a tournament draw today.
"We'll practice this week and get up there and see what happens," Turner said.
Dayton 59, Riverside Christian 41
RIVERSIDE CHRISTIAN (41) - Van Tuinen 2-10 3-3 7, Gartrell 0-0 0-0 0, Vickers 1-3 1-2 3, Bender 0-1 1-1 1, McNeil 0-3 1-3 1, Jones 6-17 2-4 14, Cowin 3-11 4-6 10, Stein 0-0 0-0 0, Cates 0-1 0-0 0, Haas 2-2 1-2 5. Totals 14-48 13-21 41.
DAYTON (59) - Frame 0-5 1-2 1, McCleary 0-0 0-0 0, Bickelhaupt 0-2 3-4 3, Schlachter 6-8 2-4 14, Fullerton 6-14 4-8 16, Turner 6-15 10-14 23, Sunderland 1-8 0-1 2, Ramirez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-52 20-33 59.
Riverside Christian 10 11 8 12 - 41
Dayton 12 16 11 20 - 59
3-point goals - RC 0-7 (Van Tuinen 0-2, Vickers 0-1, McNeil 0-1, Jones 0-1, Cowin 0-2), Day 1-9 (Bickelhaupt 0-2, Fullerton 0-3, Turner 1-4). Total fouls - RC 24, Day 16. Fouled out - RC (Van Tuinen, Vickers, Jones). Technical fouls - Day (Fullerton). Rebounds - RC 39 (Haas 7, Cowin 7), Day 36 (Schlachter 10). Turnovers - RC 24, Day 15. Assists - RC 4 (Van Tuinen 2), Day 7 (Fullerton 2, Turner 2).