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Defense lifts Spartans to finals

It wasn’t a work of art, but the Richmond Spartans battled their way past the host Cardinals and into their third straight Lawson Invitational championship game Thursday night. Richmond got a solid defensive effort as the Spartans stopped Lawson 51-37 for a spot in Saturday’s title game.
They’ll meet top-seeded Hamilton in a rematch of last year’s final, won by Richmond, 61-52. The Hornets are undefeated and the top-ranked Class 2 squad.
Richmond, now 6-4 for the season, also pounded the boards as the Spartans pulled down 33 rebounds, with Robert Brewer grabbing a dozen of them to complete his double double for the night. Brewer, who hit for 29 points on Tuesday, was one of three Spartans in double-figure scoring with a game-high 15 points. Blaine Broderick added 14 points, with Kyle Carroll chipping in 10.
“It was our best defensive effort of the year,” Spartan Coach Duane Bastob said. “It was a total team effort on both ends of the floor.”
The defense helped keep Richmond in the game through a couple of lulls by the offense. The Spartans had the shots early in the game, but came up empty as Lawson scored the first 7 points on the way to a 13-8 lead after the first quarter.
Richmond got its running game going as the second period began. Carroll hit the first of his three 3-pointers and Brewer found the range under the bucket during a 15-1 Spartan run, which put Richmond in control over the No. 2-seeded Cardinals.
Lawson was able to stay within striking distance, but never held the lead again.
Richmond took a 26-20 lead into the half, and stretched that advantage to 33-24 early in the third. Brewer hit from the lane with 5:19 left in the period, but that would be the last Richmond field goal until Broderick hit the first of his back-to-back 3-pointers with 5:03 remaining in the game.
Meanwhile, the Spartan defense limited the Cardinals to a pair of field goals and a 3-point bucket in that span. Lawson also misfired on three straight free throw opportunities.
Broderick’s 3-pointer pushed the Richmond advantage to 10 points, and the Cardinals would not get any closer.
Broderick and Caleb Benhardt grabbed 6 rebounds apiece for the Spartans. Benhardt also had 3 steals.
Da’Ron Jenkins added 6 points to the Richmond offense, to go along with 3 boards and a half dozen assists. Lucas Hook added 3 points, followed by Cody Gorham with 2, and Benhardt, a free throw.
Garrison Green led the Lawson scoring with 9 points.
PHOTO:Lucas Hook (1) drives the baseline for the Spartans in the second half of Richmond’s 51-37 win over Lawson in the semifinals of the Lawson Invitational. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)

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