Kodi Justice and Ryan Richardson sat side-by-side on the Dobson bench in the waning seconds of Thursday's Division I state quarterfinals and shared a laugh.
The Mustangs' two stars — and they are just that — are the two biggest reasons Dobson is in the semifinals and one win from its first championship game appearance. But having two elite players doesn't guarantee such success.
There are plenty of examples of that.
Jealously and rivalry — at least not the unhealthy kind — don't exist between Justice and Richardson.
They're happy for each other's success. They look for each other on the court and don't have a problem deferring when it is in the best interest of the team.
"It's just the personality of our team and it starts with those guys," Dobson coach Rick McConnell said after his team's 58-38 victory over Hamilton at Wells Fargo Arena.
That's a quality trait but also a rare one.
"Yes, it is," McConnell said.
Richardson and Justice took turns dissecting Hamilton, even if it wasn't always via scoring. Richardson sank five 3-pointers and finished with 23 points. Justice had 13 points, 11 in the second half when he came out aggressive trying to put the game away.
"We're just here to win," said the ASU-bound Justice, who drew quite the look from Richardson on a fourth-quarter finish at the rim on which he had his back to the basket under heavy duress.
"I enjoyed that because I've seen him make some pretty acrobatic shots before but I've never seen him turn his back," Richardson said. "And he stole my move ... the hand clap on the release. But I gave him props for it. It was a pretty nasty move."
In the name of their friendly rivalry, which they both said pushes them, Richardson doled out more that just praise for Justice.
"He likes to look me off sometimes," Richardson said, drawing a laugh from Justice, though his gaze remained at his feet, perhaps knowing where Richardson was going next. "There was a big debate junior year of who was the better shooter. We went to the gym and settled that. Didn't we, Kodi?"
Richardson, who transferred from Perry two years ago and will play at Weber State next year, didn't give the quieter Justice a chance to answer before he moved on.
"We just want to win, both of us," he said. "I don't care if I score zero points and he scores all of the points. It doesn't matter to me and he feels the same."
"Two good shooters on one team is fine with us," Justice said.
It was too much for Hamilton, which watched the second-seeded Mustangs (24-7) drain nine 3s in advancing to the program's third state semifinals where they will face third-seeded Pinnacle at 4:15 p.m. Friday at ASU.
"They spread the floor and shoot it," Hamilton coach Kevin Hartwig said. "We didn't get out on them far enough every time. But other times we did and they still hit shots."
The Huskies finished 24-4, a program record for wins in a season.
DOBSON 58, HAMILTON 38
Hamilton 8 6 17 7 — 38
Dobson 16 14 17 11 — 58
Hamilton: Sosinski 8, Harrington 7, Evans 7, Garcia 5, McCook 4, McCall 3, Scoggin 2, Withers 2.
Dobson: Richardson 23, Justice 13, Barriero 9, Mellinger 6, Ka.Williams 3, Colburn 2, Thorpe 2.
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