RICHMOND – The Spartans needed a few minutes to get rolling in their varsity boys basketball season opener Tuesday against visiting Excelsior Springs, and then they rolled over the Tigers.
With Excelsior Springs leading 4-2, Richmond staged a 19-5 run that bridged the first and second quarters. The Spartans rolled on to a 50-32 Missouri River Valley Conference interdivisional win.
“We started out a little jittery,” senior guard Dionte Marquez said. “It was the first game of the year; we all had the first-game-of-the-year jitters and we were a little nervous. And once we got settled in, we started rolling.”
Marquez led all scorers with 22 points and was the lone Spartan in double figures.
“He gets in the paint well and distributes the ball well,” Excelsior Springs coach Chad Wright said.
With Marquez leading the way to the rim, the Spartans went up 11-6 after one quarter, 27-16 at halftime lead and 46-21 after three quarters.
“Part way through the second quarter and definitely the third quarter … we just focused on what … (we were) supposed to do. … Quick shots and transition off of our defense are good things,” Richmond coach Kevin Jermain said. “We did a lot of those (things) in the second, third … (quarters).”
Excelsior Springs outscored Richmond 11-4 the final quarter, capping an evening that gave Wright cause for optimism.
“I thought, by the end of the game, we were competing better and doing some stuff that we’re trying to get them to do in practice,” he said.
Excelsior Springs junior forward Mason Wright found good points, too.
“You (have) always got to look at the positives,” he said. “But there’s always room for improvement, and we (have) got to get better to win more games.”
Specifically, the Tigers cannot let opponents speed up their play, Mason Wright said. And they must “stop dribbling so much, and look to pass and help our teammates, instead of being selfish,” he added.
Mason Wright finished as Excelsior Springs’ No. 3 scorer with six point. Sophomore Garron Willis paced the Tigers with 11 points, followed by senior Levi King with seven.
The varsity victory capped a sweep of three games Tuesday between Richmond and Excelsior Springs squads. Led by Jordan Alexander with 11 points, Carter Heflin with nine points and Jack Gogue with eight points, the junior varsity Spartans won 51-33. Richmond’s C team won 39-32.
The Spartans will look to stay undefeated this weekend when they play back-to-back road games. They will face Cameron in non-conference action Friday. On Saturday, they will play Mid-Buchanan in the 810 Varsity Tipoff Classic at Liberty High School.
“We’re going to prepare well the rest of this week, get ready for Cameron Friday and get some good … rest after the game Friday, and wake up Saturday, get ready to go,” senior guard Hunter Gifford said.