Two minutes into the second half of Friday’s game at Eau Claire, Lower Richland turned the tables on the host Shamrocks.
Trailing from the start, Lower Richland took the lead early in the third quarter and cruised to a 71-52 win.
Eau Claire held a two-possession lead coming out of halftime, and the Diamond Hornets made it a one-point game with Brandon Stroman’s 3-pointer 15 seconds into the third quarter.
Lower Richland took control from there. At 6:06 left in the period, a putback from Jared Richardson gave Lower Richland a four-point lead. Three minutes later, two free throws from Stroman put the Diamond Hornets ahead 39-30, the largest lead of the game to that point.
The game quickly got out of hand from there.
Lower Richland outscored the Shamrocks 31-5 in the period, bolstered by 8-of-14 free throw shooting, to push its lead to 22 points.
“We can’t get into our defense if we don’t score, so when you’re having a hard time scoring you’ve got to get to the foul line and make a free throw or something and we were able to do that,” Lower Richland coach Willie Thomas said. “Even in the first half, we missed a lot of shots. Then we got a free throw and kind of got a flow.”
Eau Claire was 11-of-31 from the line.
The Shamrocks were hot early, as Wallace Green paced them with four steals and 10 points.
But Lower Richland’s sticky defense kept the Shamrocks from running away in the first quarter. Eau Claire seemed to find its rhythm at the end of the period, setting a screen to give Jordan Thompson an open look from 3-point range that put the Shamrocks up 18-12.
“The younger guys that came in and disrupted them defensively right there made a difference and got us kind of in a rhythm,” Thomas said.
But late in the half, Lower Richland hemmed up Green and Thompson with double teams to stall the Shamrocks’ offense. Eau Claire forfeited 11 points at the free throw line in that first half, and had a vulnerable 29-24 lead at the break.
Green led the Shamrocks with a game-high 17 points.
Kelvin Washington posted 14 points for Lower Richland. Richardson had 13 and Stroman and Timothy Myers each scored 12.
L: Brandon Stroman 12, Jared Richardson 13, Timothy Myers 12, Kelvin Washington 14, Tisdale 2, Nuttry 4, Nelson 2, Belton 2, Hart 4, Collins 2, Robinson 1, Brooks 2.