It was a tale of two halves Monday as the Richmond Lady Spartans met Lawson in the opening game of the Class 3, District 15 Tournament at the RHS gym. The Lady Spartans had the top-seeded Lady Cardinals on the ropes throughout the first half, but the second half was all Lawson in a 52-37 victory.
Everything the Lady Cardinals could not get accomplished throughout the first two periods, they could do in the second half as they reeled off 23 unanswered points.
The Richmond defense made Lawson work for each and every basket in the first half, while the offense was able to get inside, with the help of good outside shooting.
“The girls came out and played the best basketball of the season at both ends of the court,” Lady Spartan Coach David Littrell said. “Confidence and poise played a huge role in the first sixteen minutes of the contest.”
Lawson jumped to an early lead by scoring 6 of the first 8 points, but the Lady Spartans battled back with three straight baskets. Richmond never trailed again throughout the first half. The game was tied three times in the opening period, including 12-12 entering the second quarter.
The Lady Spartans held a pair of 4-point leads in the second frame, and back-to-back 3-pointers from Stephanie Williams and Whitney Martens pushed Richmond to a game-high 6-point lead, 26-20, at the half.
As the second half began, the Lady Spartans began to commit turnovers, and Lawson took advantage of each and every one of them as the Lady Cardinals scored all 21 points in that period.
“It was pretty simple – when we allowed them to control the tempo they controlled the game,” Littrell added. “We struggled to get settled down and back to our game plan in the third quarter.”
Another quick Lady Cardinal bucket stretched the run to 23-0 before Kayla Hewitt ended the streak with a free throw with 7:06 to play in the game. Hewitt would later end the long Richmond field goal drought when she scored off a rebound with just over 5 minutes left as the Lady Spartans would battle back to eventually cut the Lawson lead to 12 points.
“I was very impressed with how the girls responded coming out to start the fourth quarter,” Littrell added. “I can’t say enough of how proud I am of the way they stepped up and fought to get back into the game.”
The Lady Spartans end the season with a 5-18 mark. Martens led the Richmond scoring with 11 points, with Williams adding 8. Also scoring for the Lady Spartans were Hewitt with 7, followed by Chelsea Hook with 6, Baylyn Jennings with 3, and Stephanie May with 2.
Jaaron Kassanavoid paced the Lady Cardinal offense with 15 points – 10 of those coming in the pivotal third quarter. Jasmine Kassanavoid added 9 for Lawson, with Shelby Pettz ending the night with 8 points for the 18-5 Lady Cardinals.
Lawson will meet St. Pius Wednesday night at 7:30 in the semifinals. The No. 4 seeded Warriors eliminated Lexington, 50-35.
PHOTO: Richmond’s Kayla Hewitt (21) dives for a loose basketball with Jaaron Kassanavoid of Lawson during the first half of the Class 3, District 15 Tournament at the RHS gym. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)