The last time the Lady Spartans met Holden, the Lady Eagles rolled to a 61-27 victory over visiting Richmond. Just 18 days later, the Lady Spartans showed the MRVC East leading Eagles how much they have improved by giving visiting Holden all they wanted before falling 45-35.
The Lady Spartans knew they would have to handle Holden’s pressure defense a lot better than they did in the earlier meeting. For the most part Richmond did just that, and played well defensively, as the Lady Spartans celebrated senior night.
The final 10-point deficit was the largest of the night for Richmond as the Lady Spartans dropped to 1-8 in the league and 5-16 overall.
“We played some very solid basketball against a tough Holden team,” Richmond Coach David Littrell said. “The girls did a much better job handling their pressure defense this time around. I am very proud of how the girls are playing. They have really pulled together on the floor and are becoming a more balanced team. It couldn’t come at a better time.”
Holden, now 8-1 in the conference and 17-3 overall, struggled with its outside shooting, but was able to get inside the Richmond defense especially down the stretch.
“One area we have to do a better job is defending the dribble penetration,” Littrell said. “We didn’t anticipate their drives to the basket as we had in the past few weeks, and that allowed them too many baskets and one shot at the charity stripe.”
Holden hit 13 of 23 free throws, while the Lady Spartans visited the stripe 24 times and converted 14.
The Lady Eagles held a 14-7 lead after the first quarter. Midway through the second period, the visitors led by 8 before Richmond cut the halftime deficit to 22-16. Once again, Holden tried to pull away in the third quarter, but the Lady Spartans answered to keep the Eagles within range. A 7-point Holden lead was cut to 4 with 2:37 remaining and 3 with 53 seconds left before the visitors took a 33-28 advantage into the fourth frame.
Holden opened the final quarter with a field goal and a pair of free throws as the Eagles slowly pulled away. Richmond could get no closer than 7 points.
Kayla Hewitt led the Lady Spartan scoring with 13 points, with Baylyn Jennings scoring 12 in her final regular-season game in the RHS gym. Another senior, Whitney Martens added 5, followed by Stephanie Williams with 3 and senior Hannah Alpers with a field goal.
Kelsey Carver’s 10 points led Holden.
The Lady Spartans close out the regular season on Friday with a trip to Knob Noster. There will be no junior varsity game so tip off for the varsity will be 6 p.m.
PHOTO: Richmond’s Baylyn Jennings had this shot blocked by Lauren Geisler of Holden, but the Lady Spartan senior ended the night with 12 points. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)