BOYS BASKETBALL

Hot Keenan Raiders rip Lower Richland Diamond Hornets

Marcus Stroman scores game-high 18 points

Special to The StateDecember 8, 2012 

Keenan's Kendrick Gathers keeps the ball away from Lower Richland's Nathan Hart in the closing minutes of friday night's game against the Lower Richland Diamond Hornets. After a slow start the Raiders jumped ahead to a comfortable lead in the second quarter and led most of the rest of the game by twenty-plus points.

C. MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com Buy Photo

— Keenan completed a season sweep of Lower Richland with a 75-45 romp on Friday at The Cove.

The Class 2A second-ranked Raiders (3-0) appeared to be in midseason form while, the struggling Diamond Hornets looked lost.

“The thing I like the most so far is that it appears we have some depth, something that cost us last year,” Keenan coach Zach Norris said.

“The top priority in the early season is to play a lot of kids and see what we can count on off the bench. We really didn’t pick up the defensive intensity tonight until the second half, but we sure ran the offense and shot the ball well.”

The Raiders finished with a 33-for-55 field-goal conversion rate (60 percent) and forced the Diamond Hornets into 27 turnovers.

“That’s a well-oiled machine we played, and we’re not anywhere near that,” first-year LR coach Willie Thomas said.

“This is a team that lost 10 seniors last year, so there isn’t much experience and there’s been some resistance to the (coaching) change. Eventually, we’ll be OK once we develop a little confidence and some trust in each other. The big challenges right now are learning how to take care of the ball and to develop mental toughness.”

Raiders junior Marcus Stroman rang up a game-high 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting. He had five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Charles Eddie Smith and Eric Hopkins backed Stroman with 13 points apiece. Smith hit all six of his shots from the field, and Hopkins salvaged a good shooting night with a 4-for-4 effort, including a thundering dunk, in the fourth quarter.

Center Vincent Hicklin was the lone double-digit man for Lower Richland with 13 points.

The Diamond Hornets (1-3) jumped to an 8-6 lead in the opening six minutes but went scoreless over the next three minutes and the Raiders went on a 11-0 run to establish control. Marcus Edmond ended the Lower Richland dry spell, but Stroman answered with a three-point play for a 20-10 lead at 6:49 of the second quarter.

Lower Richland faced a double-digit deficit the rest of the way.

LR: Myers 7, Taylor 2, Edmond 2, Tate 5, Hopkins 2, Hart 5, Vincent Hicklin 13, Byrd 5, Davis 6, Kingston 3. K: Marcus Stroman 18, Gathers 3, Tolliver 6, Davis 2, Charles Eddie Smith 13, Clarke 2, Eric Hopkins 13, Allen 4, Leo. Johnson 6, Lem. Johnson 8.

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