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Each time the Richmond Spartans and Higginsville Huskers met on the basketball court this season, there has always been something on the line. Thursday night was without a doubt the biggest of the four meetings, as the two MRVC East rivals met with a spot in tonight’s Class 3, District 15 championship game at stake.
When all was said and done, it will be the Spartans trying to snap a long district title drought following a 57-47 victory.
Richmond’s third win over the Huskers will put them against the third member of the conference tri-champions – Knob Noster Panthers this evening at 7:30, after the Panthers knocked off defending champion St. Pius X 73-61 in the earlier semifinal.
The Husker zone created some problems inside for the Richmond offense, but the Spartans countered by hitting eight 3-point buckets – four of them from junior guard Blaine Broderick, who ended the night with a game-high 17 points. Spartan coach Duane Bastob knew Higginsville would not let his team get inside without a fight.
“We are who we are,” he said. “Teams are going to zone us and we’ve got to make them pay a bit of a price. Inside, Brady (Tieman) is a force. He’s been doing that for years and I’ve seen the last two and I’ve seen enough blocked shots from him to last me a lifetime. He does a great job.”
Freshman guard Kyle Carroll hit both of his 3-pointers in the opening period to help boost the Spartans to a 15-11 lead. Both teams struggled offensively in a tightly played second quarter, with each team scoring just 8 points.
Richmond called on its long-distance shooting as the second half unfolded with Broderick knocking down a pair of treys as the Spartans opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run to push their lead to 32-19.
DeShawn Thirkield then took charge for Higginsville with back-to-back buckets, followed by a 3-pointer from Taylor Cooper to pull the Huskers within 6, but the Spartans held on to take a 37-30 lead into the final frame.
Evan Hoeppner’s bucket to begin the fourth period cut the deficit to 5 points, but the Huskers would get no closer.
Both teams missed chances at the free throw line with less than 3 minutes remaining as the Spartans missed the front end of a one-and-one situation twice, and Higginsville missed one. However, Richmond hit 11 of its final 12 to close out the night.
Thirkield ended the night with 16 points to lead the Huskers who end the season at 22-5.
In addition to his scoring, Broderick grabbed 5 rebounds with 3 assists, and Jon Vance hit for 11 points with 10 rebounds in addition to coming up with numerous steals.
“Blaine played a great game,” Bastob said. “He’s been studding out lately. Jon had a great game, too. As bad as we played sometimes inside on offense, I thought our defense at the basket was awesome.”
D’Andre Williams slashed his way inside for 9 Richmond points with 3 rebounds, with Jacob Swope adding 8 points, followed by Carroll with 6. James Vance added 4 points with 4 assists and 3 steals, and Robert Brewer added 2 points as the Spartans improved to 21-6.
Tonight’s contest will be the third of the season between Richmond and Knob Noster with both teams owning one victory apiece. The Panthers, 21-5, came from behind to defeat visiting Richmond 50-46 on Feb. 11.
The Spartans defeated the visiting Panthers 63-59 in double overtime eight days ago.
PHOTO: Richmond freshman guard Kyle Carroll (5) tries the inside of the Husker defense against Evan Hoeppner (42) and Cameron Zuehlsdorf (12). (Photos by Russ Green/The Daily News.)