Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Richmond Heights wins first district title since 2014

ORWELL–Richmond Heights downed Western Reserve 24-20 to capture its first district title since the 2013-2014 season.

With their sixth straight win, the Spartans improved to 20-4 on the year and advanced to play New Middletown Springfield in a Division IV regional semifinal at Massillon Perry High School on March 7 at 8:00 p.m.

“This is special,” said Richmond Heights coach Eugene White. “Our coaching staff is great, our kids are great, our administration is great. It’s a place where they allow us to be us. It’s a buy-in, and it’s a beautiful thing. It’s not stopping, and the future is bright here.”

The first quarter saw both teams hit their stride behind the arc, each with a pair of 3-pointers, as the Spartans held a slim 12-11 advantage over the Blue Devils.

Honor Hall sparked Richmond Heights in the first quarter with six points.

The Spartans tightened up their defense in the second quarter and outscored Western Reserve in the second, 9-4, to take a 21-15 lead into intermission.

All nine of Richmond Heights’ points came from behind the arc.

“In the second quarter, we came out of our press and played more man-on-man,” White said. “I think that kind of ran (Western Reserve) off the 3-point line. It allowed us not to lose people. That was one of the adjustments that all of the coaches came up with. That’s what would be the best thing for our team.”

The Spartans, who dribbled out nearly three minutes in the second quarter, used a similar tactic in the second half.

Richmond Heights chewed up seven minutes and 15 seconds of game clock on its first possession of the third quarter.

“It’s never our game plan to sit there and stall, but we were up by six. Why do we need to go out and rush a shot? That’s our mindset,” White said. “You have to change within the game. Our game plan changed. If you’re going to back up off us and play that far off, then why rush it? I also think with us doing that, it took away from our steam.”

The Spartans may have lost their steam, but Western Reserve found some of its own.

With the score sitting at 21-15, which was the score at halftime, the Blue Devils made their move.

A 5-0 run quickly narrowed the margin, but Richmond Heights returned to taking the air out of the basketball, forcing Western Reserve to foul.

Hall and Mya Johnson both made three clutch free throws down the stretch to give Richmond Heights its first points since the second quarter and also put the nail in the coffin of a 24-20 district championship-clinching win.

The Spartans atoned for last year’s loss to Dalton in the district title game.

“It’s a beautiful thing just to get back to this game,” White said. “Last year, we were just glad to be in the game. This year, we came in with the mindset of, ‘We’re winning this thing.’ Through some adversity at the end of the game, hard work, and making some crucial plays in the game, we won it.”

Hall led all scorers with a game-high 14 points, Alanna Scott connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the first half for six points, and Nisey Darden also hit a triple in the first half for all three of her points. Although Mya Johnson split her two free throws in the fourth, she came up big defensively in the fourth quarter.

“(Hall) has always played well for us, but if you look at it tonight, everyone brings a big part,” White said. “Alanna Scott, who hit two big 3-pointers for us, Mya had a tough defensive assignment tonight. I want to make sure I give Western Reserve a lot of credit. They did a great job, and they played well.”

Western Reserve ended its season with a 16-10 record.

Alyvia Hughes led the team with six points, Quincy Miller scored five, and Lisa Eichert finished with four points.




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