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Difficult opening for Lady Spartans

A youthful Lady Spartan squad drew a couple of tough road games to begin the new basketball season. On Monday, the Lady Spartans battled a veteran Excelsior Springs club and then followed that up with another experienced team at Lathrop.
It was somewhat of a promising start on Monday as Richmond fell to the Lady Tigers 54-38, but on Tuesday, the Lady Spartans struggled on both ends of the court in a 61-26 loss to KCI Conference favorite Lathrop.
“The outcome of the game wasn’t from lack of effort,” Richmond Coach David Littrell said of his team’s outing on Tuesday. “One great aspect of this team is they play as hard as they can. Tonight it was simply the lack of executing the fundamentals consistently. Our success this season will rely on our ability to stay with our game plan as a team.”
Richmond played well in the opening period despite trailing 15-11. However, Lathrop took control in the second quarter with a 17-3 scoring surge as the Lady Spartans managed just a field goal and a free throw. Meanwhile the Mules hit a pair of 3-point buckets and converted 7 of 9 free throws on the way to building a 32-14 cushion at the break.
“In the second quarter we just played out of sync causing our offense to stall,” Littrell explained. “The girls didn’t communicate very well on the defensive end, which created too many gaps in our help rotations.”
Lathrop continued to control the action in the second half as the home team outscored the visitors 19-5 in the third period and 10-7 in the final frame.
Kayla Clariday led the Lathrop scoresheet with 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, followed by Janelle Saling with 14, who also connected on a pair from outside the arc.
Chelsea Hook and Kayla Hewitt led the Richmond scoring with 6 each, while Kadee McMillan and Haley Padgett added 4 apiece. Ariel Hoard, Stephanie Williams and Jordan Thoreson scored 2 each.
Lathrop hit 12 of 18 free throws for the night, while Richmond visited the stripe just 7 times while converting 3 of them.
Richmond opened the season the night before taking on an Excelsior Spring Lady Tiger squad that put four seniors on the floor. It took the Lady Spartans a while to get started, but once they did, it was a fairly even contest. Excelsior jumped out to a 9-0 lead before Hoard scored Richmond’s first bucket of the season off a rebound with 1:31 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Lady Tigers extended their 9-2 first quarter lead to 13-3 early in the second frame before Richmond got the offense going.
Excelsior held a 22-16 lead at the half, but the Lady Spartans came out strong in the third period with a 3-pointer by Williams giving the visitors their first lead, 26-24, midway through the quarter.
The Lady Tigers quickly regained the lead and took a 38-32 lead into the final 8 minutes, and began the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run.
“We had five possessions early in the fourth only down six that we played too anxious,” Littrell said. “Excelsior turned those four miscues into points that created the scoring gap in the game.”
Overall, Littrell though his team played well for its first outing of the season.
“We knew coming in we would have to deal with a scrappy pressure defense from a veteran Excelsior squad,” he said. “I was impressed how we handled the constant ball pressure. We missed a few easy baskets in the opening quarter due to the first game jitters, but we only gave up three baskets on the defensive end.”
Hewitt led the Richmond scoring with 14 points, while Williams hit two more 3-point buckets for her 9-point night. McMillan and Padgett each scored 4. Lexa Palomarez scored a game-high 15 for the Lady Tigers with Tatum Hannah adding 12.
PHOTO: Richmond’s Stephanie Williams (22) finds tough going inside for the Lady Spartans Monday night, however, the RHS senior hit three buckets outside the arc in a 54-38 at Excelsior Springs. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)

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