Diamonds shine in 1st round
The Lower Richland Diamond Hornets rode the stellar inside play of forward Vincent Hicklin and a stingy team defense to a 66-51 first round win in the Chick-fil-A Classic Monday, December 19 at Richland Northeast High School.
The win gives the Diamond Hornets a 5- 2 start, and “It is a lot better than last year at this time,” according to head coach Zeke Washington.
“What we want to do is get one win at a time,” Washington said. “We welcome this competition in the Chick-fil-A. A lot of our guys want to be next level guys, and you have to test yourself against next level guys.”
Hicklin led the Diamonds with 22 points, followed by guard Eric Eaves with 13, Edward Stephens with 12, and Alonzo Gibson with 11.
The Blazers fall to 4-4 on the year after this game. Guards Ismail Howard and Seth Coleman each tallied 15 for Ridge View. The Blazers shot only 27 percent for the game, 20 percent from 3- point range, and were out-rebounded 41-38.
“No. 2 (Howard) was a problem,” Washington said. “We knew he was their best player. He knocked down some threes early. I was just begging fellows that ‘ he has done this before, now we gotta find him.’ Our kids did a good job with that.”
The poor shooting and rebounding statistics were not lost on Ridge View coach John Combs.
“You want to be careful not to overreact,” the Blazer boss said. “If we are playing poorly, I want to go back and look at the film and look at our stats, but I don’t think it is any secret. We did not shoot the ball well. We did not shoot free throws. We did not rebound very well at all. They were more physical than us in the post. So that is something we are going to have to address.
“Offensively, I don’t think we had enough patience,” Combs added. “I don’t think we moved the ball well on offense. But you have to give LR credit for what they did. They played a fantastic defensive game, and they were real physical on the boards, and we weren’t.”
Lower Richland jumped to an early 9-0 lead and led 42-33 at the half thanks to a long three from Stephens at the buzzer in response to a three seconds before from the Blazers’ Howard. The Blazers got to within three on two different occasions in the second half, but the Diamonds repelled the charge each time.
“They are a competitive team, and we did just enough to win tonight,” Washington said. “ If we play them again, the outcome might not be the same. We really mirror each other. We have more size, but they are quicker.”
Percentages: FG .271, FT .615. 3-Point
Goals: 3-15, .200 (Howard 2-5, Coleman 1-
4, Robinson 0-3, Howell 0-1, McDaniels 0-1,
Portee 0-1). Blocked Shots: 4 (Howard 3,
Coleman 1). Steals: 4 (Howard 1, Howell 1,
Moore 1, Portee 1).
Percentages: FG .448, FT .733. 3-Point
Goals: 3-9, .333 (Montgomery 1-3, Eaves 0-
4, Stephens 2-2). Blocked Shots: 5 (Montgomery 1, Hicklin 2, Eaves 1, Edmunds 1).
Steals: 7 (Montgomery 2, Hicklin 1, Edmunds
1, Stephens 2, McFadden 1).