Spartans return to D-IV state final four – News-Herald

Early foul trouble for Richmond Heights in their D-IV regional final final against St. Thomas Aquinas at McKinley didn’t change any of the game plan for the Spartans on March 11.

They continued to attack the ball and press into the Knights ball handlers.

The intensity continued in the third and coupled with their 25 points in the frame, made the lead insurmountable for St. Thomas Aquinas, as Richmond Heights won, 77-54, and advanced to the state semifinals for the third time in four seasons.

Richmond Heights players celebrate after winning their D-IV regional final on March 11. (Brian Fisher — For The News-Herad)

Richmond Heights travels down to Dayton University for their D-IV state semifinal against Berlin Hiland on March 19 with tip scheduled for 10:45 am

While they started the game with back-to-back dunks by Jaiden Cox-Holloway and London Maiden, the latter received a technical foul for hanging on the rim. The fouls continued from there for Richmond Heights as they racked up nine in the first half, eight of which came in the first quarter.

Instead of taking their foot off the gas and settling in on the defensive side of the ball, Richmond Heights kept their foot down and continued to attack the ball handlers for the Knights, as they created 20 turnovers.

“They got a little caught up in the environment and bad habits like that are going to pop up like that,” said Richmond Heights coach Quentin Rogers. “We needed to go back to being discipline, beating guys to the spot instead of reaching and taking charges.”

Richmond Heights players celebrate after winning their D-IV regional final on March 11. (Brian Fisher — For The News-Herad)

With the foul trouble, different players stepped up for the Spartans to take control of the contest. One of those players was Rodney Williams, who finished with eight points and a handful of steals.

While he’s been more of a defensive threat this season, Rogers wasn’t surprised with William’s work on the offensive side of the ball.

“He’s had games where he’s had double figures,” said Rogers. “But that all comes because he’s such an active player. He is always around the rim, crashing the boards, getting in there. I don’t even know if he has lungs because he just flies all over the place. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him take a breath.”

While depth hasn’t always been a strong point for Richmond Heights this season, it is something that they have worked on improving in their already deep offensive repertoire. Jaiden Cox-Holloway looked at what his coach has preached to the team since the beginning of the season.

“Coach always tells everyone to stay ready,” Cox-Holloway said. “You never know when your number is going to be called and when you’re needed in the game. We preach being ready no matter what and working like your number is going to be the one called every time something happens.”

Cox-Holloway finished with a game-high 17 points, 11 of which came in the second half as he missed a major portion of the first half due to his three fouls. Despite the slow start, Cox-Holloway knew that he had to adjust his play to prolong his next possible two fouls in the contest.

“I was struggling a little at first when I got the three fouls,” Cox said. “The coaches kept telling us to keep doing what we were doing and to keep our heads about us and play the brand of basketball that we know.”

Also in double figures for the Spartans were London Maiden (12), DeErick Barber (11) and Josiah Harris (10). st. Thomas Aquinas was led by T. Gorgon with his 15 and J. Kimbrough added 11.

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