EVERETT, Wash. — Most of the time, trailing at the half isn’t something you want.
But in the case of the Linn-Benton Community College men’s basketball team, it’s not that big of a deal.
In fact, it’s really where the Roadrunners feel most comfortable.
So when they trailed defending Northwest Athletic Conference tournament champion Walla Walla on Sunday in the quarterfinals of this year’s tournament, there was no panic.
Like it did on Saturday in a Sweet 16 win over Edmonds, Linn-Benton used a big second half to come out with a win.
The Roadrunners outscored the Warriors 49-33 on Sunday to take an 84-75 victory and advance to next week’s semifinals.
LB (22-9) will take on Peninsula at 2 p.m. Saturday at Everett, Washington. It will be the Roadrunners' first trip to the semifinals in program history.
“I’m just really, really happy for my coaching staff, and really happy for my kids,” coach Everett Hartman said. “They have done a great job. It’s pretty easy to be a head coach when you have the staff and the kids that I have.”
Trent Van Cleave and Bailey Evers both scored 17 points to lead a balanced attack, while Cooper Getsfrid added 15 and Taylor Jensen had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Roadrunners trailed 42-35 at the half before mounting another second-half comeback win.
“We’ve been doing that all year long,” Hartman said. “I would guess that easily 14 or 15 of our wins we’ve come from behind in the second half."
Hartman said the Roadrunners came from 20 down in the second half in the season opener to take a close win over Tacoma.
“They just believe in themselves, they believe in their conditioning, they believe in our system and again, we played everybody and got great contributions,” Hartman said.
“They just believe and when it continues to happen, you believe even more. We just knew we were never going to give up and keep pushing the ball, keep attacking and at some point we’re going to break our opponent.”
LB worked to get better shots in the second half and made 14 of 26 attempts from the floor after making 14 on 36 attempts in the first half.
The Roadrunners were also an impressive 18 for 19 from the free-throw line the last 20 minutes.
“We got better looks and attacked the basket,” Hartman said. “We had 36 shots in the first half and only 26 in the second half but we were getting the ball inside, getting layins, getting close-range shots. Just did a better job of executing also.”
Meanwhile, Walla Walla was just 11 for 41 from the floor and 4 for 21 from 3 in the second half.
Landon Radliff scored 30 points to lead Wall Walla, while Damen Thacker finished with 19 and Gary Engstrom 12.
Those three scored all but two of the Warriors’ second-half points.
Hartman said the Roadrunners didn’t do anything different defensively in the second half.
“We just continued to push the pace,” he said. “They played a bunch of guys (Saturday night), two starters played 40 minutes and another starter played for 37 so we just told our kids, just keep pushing it and pushing it and fast breaking and at some point they’re going to lose their legs and when your legs get tired it’s really hard to shoot the ball and I think that’s what happened to them.”