The MRVC East basketball race isn’t quite over yet. The Richmond Spartans derailed first-place Higginsville Tuesday night at the RHS gym by handing the Huskers their first league loss in seven games. Jacob Swope’s 3-point bucket with 4 seconds remaining in overtime pushed Richmond to a 51-49 victory and also kept the Spartans’ faint hopes alive in the conference race.
The Spartans, now 5-2 in the MRVC East and 16-6 overall, are a game behind the Huskers and Knob Noster who are both 6-1. The Panthers will be at Higginsville Tuesday, and then travel to Richmond two days later.
Although they need some help, the Spartans stayed in the race thanks to a grinding effort that helped them gain some measure of revenge following their 66-49 loss at Higginsville earlier this season. Richmond spent most of Tuesday night battling from behind, and then when the Spartans would jump ahead, the Huskers would fight right back.
“The thing I like is they kept responding,” Richmond Coach Duane Bastob said. “Both teams fought their butts off and we just happened to be fortunate enough to win it. I’m ecstatic with the fact that when we were down early in the fourth quarter we battled. There have been moments where we have not finished and that’s one of our themes the rest of the year is to finish.”
Richmond trailed by 7 with 5:56 remaining in regulation, and then took the lead with just under 2 minutes left when Swope hit a 3-pointer. Once again, the Huskers had an answer, as Brady Tieman got open under the Spartan basket to tie the game at 43-43 with 42 seconds left. Following a Richmond timeout, the Spartans had 16 seconds to set up the winning shot, but a finger roll attempt down the lane bounced off the rim to send the game into overtime.
Once in the extra session, the Huskers grabbed the early advantage on a layup from Lance Kays, and again, the Spartans found themselves fighting from behind. Blaine Broderick’s fourth 3-pointer of the night pulled Richmond back on top with 2:11 left, but Higginsville had yet another answer and held the lead with 38 seconds to play.
The Spartans called two timeouts to set up the final play, and with time running out, Swope knocked down the 3-pointer from the right side with 4 ticks left on the clock. The Richmond senior guard said he had no doubt about the shot.
“I really didn’t think about it,” he said. “I knew I was going to shoot it. James (Vance) drove in the middle and penetrated and dished it to me outside and I just hit the shot.”
Bastob was also confident.
“Every time he shoots, I think it’s going in,” he said.
The Huskers called a timeout following the bucket, but the long inbounds pass was tipped away, and the Spartans had this one safely tucked away.
Broderick ended the night with a team-high 14 points with 3 assists and a pair of steals, while Swope’s four 3-point baskets helped him to a 12-point effort to go along with 3 assists and 3 steals. Robert Brewer, hobbled by an ankle injury, managed 9 points and 8 rebounds with James Vance and Jon Vance adding 6 points each. Jon grabbed 7 rebounds and 4 steals, with James dishing out a half-dozen assists and grabbing 3 steals. Jordan Smith and D’Andre Williams scored 2 each.
Higginsville, now 18-4 overall and ranked eighth in the latest Class 3 poll, was led by Evan Hoeppner’s 17 points with Deshawn Thirkield adding 12 despite picking up his fourth foul with 6:36 remaining in the third period.
PHOTO: Richmond guard Blaine Broderick goes down the lane for 2 of his 14 points in Tuesday night’s 51-49 overtime win over Higginsville. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)