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It wasn’t their best performance of the week, but Saturday was the most important one for the Richmond Spartans. After chalking up victories by 35 and 24 points in the first two rounds, the Spartans had their hands full in the Lawson Invitational championship game against the 8-1 Hamilton Hornets. Following a fast-paced, physical night, Richmond captured its second Lawson title, and first since 2001, with a 61-52 victory to end the Hornets’ six-game winning streak.
The Spartans chalked up their fourth straight win and will take a 7-3 mark into tonight’s makeup game at Smithville. Although his offense averaged over 68 points for the week, Richmond Coach Duane Bastob said it was his defense that has made the difference the past few weeks.
“We’re getting better,” he said. “Earlier in the year, I was still a little worried about some of the things we were doing defensively. Even one of our losses – Cameron – was one of our best defensive efforts. I think they’ve shown lately how tough they are.
I think we had a lull there when we played Pius and Maryville. Kids weren’t happy and none of us were happy with our defensive effort. Since then, everybody is giving a huge effort. I just love where we’re at and I hope we can keep it going.”
Jacob Swope was named the tournament MVP. Swope averaged 16 points a game, and hit 9 3-point buckets for the week. Saturday night he hit a pair of 3-pointers while scoring 12 points and dishing out 6 assists to go along with 4 rebounds and a pair of steals. Blaine Broderick added 5 points with 6 rebounds and was also named to the all-tournament team.
Jon Vance led the Richmond effort Saturday with 22 points and 9 rebounds.
“I don’t know how Jon Vance doesn’t make the all-tournament team because the last two games and especially tonight he was huge,” Bastob said. “Jacob, of course was huge all week. When we recognize who our shooters are, we compete pretty well.”
The Spartans held a 19-18 lead after a back-and-forth opening 8 minutes, but the Hornets controlled the boards in the second period to take a 31-26 lead. An 11-4 run for Hamilton closed out the half and gave the Spartans something to talk about at the half.
“We don’t like giving up 31 points in a half,” Bastob said. “They’re a good team, but we were disappointed in our physical-ness and giving up rebounds so we came out and wanted to play hard until the finish. I thought they did a great job of finishing and they didn’t play scared either. I thought that was key.”
Hamilton held a 45-44 lead heading into the final 8 minutes, and was clinging to a 52-51 lead with 3:29 left in the game before a James Vance bucket gave the Spartans the lead for good with 2:45 remaining.
Richmond ended up scoring the final 10 points with Jon Vance closing out the game by going 4 for 4 at the stripe to seal the deal.
James Vance added 13 points with 4 assists to the Richmond total for the evening, followed by Broderick with 5, Kyle Ash with 3 and Jordan Smith with 2. Ash also grabbed 5 rebounds.
Hamilton had four players reach double figures as Joe Pickrell, who was also named to the all-tournament team, leading with 13 points. Another all-tournament selection, Keagen Prather was one of three Hornets to score 10 points.
PHOTO: Richmond senior Jacob Swope averaged 16 points and hit 9 3-point buckets for the week and was named the tournament MVP. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)