Hermiston coach Casey Arstein didn’t mince words Saturday night. His team did not get the job done defensively against Richland, and it paid dearly.
The Bombers had three players score 20 or more points, and they shot 80 percent from the free-throw line, to cruise to a 96-57 Mid-Columbia Conference victory over the Bulldogs in Richland.
“Defensively, that was one of the worst games I have had to watch,” Arstein said. “I know Richland is good offensively, but we didn’t help ourselves out. We let them get too many transition baskets. We got our butts kicked.”
Richland (17-2 overall, 15-0 MCC) clinched its seventh consecutive MCC title, and have won 36 consecutive MCC games dating to a Jan. 14, 2017, loss to Kamiakin.
“I thought we shared the ball really well,” Richland coach Earl Streufert said. “We have been working hard the last couple of weeks making adjustments. We had three with 20 or more and the ball moved all night.”
Cole Northrop scored nine of his 20 points in the first quarter, seven of which were free throws, as the Bombers raced out to a 27-14 lead.
Hermiston’s only lead of the game was 2-1 with a basket by Cesar Ortiz. From there, the Bombers drained three 3-pointers and made 12 of 14 free throws.
The Bulldogs (12-6, 8-6) held their own in the second quarter, with Cole Smith coming off the bench to chip in six points, but they could not make a dent in the deficit from the first quarter.
“I thought offensively, our guys attacked the rim,” Arstein said. “Ryne (Andreason) went to the rim hard. Offensively, we were in attack mode, but you have to defend and make them earn every basket.”
The third quarter got out of hand, and the Bombers led by 30 at one point — 73-43. Andreason hit a pair of free throws as the Bulldogs trailed 73-45 at the end of the quarter.
In the fourth, Jacob Kreutz hit a pair of baskets to give the Bombers a 41-point lead with 3:52 to play.
Hermiston went on a 5-0 run to make it 91-54, but the Bombers just kept coming. Kirby Robertson had the last word with a basket with just 9 seconds remaining.
“We didn’t make many mistakes,” Streufert said. “I have been fortunate to be blessed with a lot of good players over the years.”
Dhaunye Guice led the Bombers with 22 points — 10 in the second quarter — while Cody Sanderson had 21.
Hermiston got 15 points from Andreason, 12 from Jordan Ramirez and 11 from Smith.
The Bulldogs will host Kamiakin on Tuesday in a battle for the top 3A seed to regionals.
The Braves beat Hermiston the first time around, 67-51 in Kennewick.