HOPKINS— — Lower Richland advanced to the third round of the boys Class 3A playoffs by defeating Chester 68-53 at home on Friday.
Vincent Hicklin led the Diamond Hornets with his second double-double of the postseason. He posted 24 points and 12 rebounds.
The Diamond Hornets (17-10) put the pressure on when they outscored an offshooting Chester team 15-2 in the first four minutes, and never trailed.
Chester (11-10) held on in the fourth quarter, with four 3-point buckets, including three from Terrance Morris. The last chopped Lower Richland’s lead to eight points with 1:33 to go. But the Diamond Hornets stayed ahead with 15 points off free throws in the final period.
Lower Richland was 14-of-30 from the line in the period though, and 19-of 40 for the game.
“We can’t shoot free throws like that in the third round or we’re going to be coming home,” coach Willie Thomas said.
But the game had several bright spots for the Diamond Hornets.
Their early dominance allowed the Lower Richland reserves to get in quality minutes against Chester’s aggressive defense, and provided rest for the Diamond Hornets’ starters. Both will be helpful as Lower Richland takes the next step, Thomas said.
“That’s very important. It helped us to not be so tired in the fourth quarter, to be able to get a few minutes of rest in there,” Thomas said. “We’ve got to have more guys contributing, so we even had an eighth-grader out there at one point handling the ball.”
The Diamond Hornets held a 34-20 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Chester picked up momentum with its transition game, but Lower Richland countered by slowing the pace of play. But with the move the Diamond Hornets lost momentum as well, and notched 12 points in the period.
“We know we have things to improve on,” said guard Spencer Taylor, who posted 11 points. “It drives us hard, and we’re not finished working. No days off for us.”
Lower Richland is slated to face the Eastside on Tuesday.
LR: Hicklin 24, Edmond 11, Taylor 11, Stroman 10, Davis 7, Myers 3, Nuttry 2. C: Morris 17, Hinton 8, Wilson 7, Sanders 6, Gore 5, Caldwell 4, Woods 3, Rambert 2, Moore 1.