Dayton, OH- A tale of two halves was the perfect way to sum up the final Division IV semifinal between the undefeated Richmond Heights Spartans (28-0) and the Russia Raiders (21-4).
"I warned my players before the game when you're playing teams that are playing for something bigger than a championship you're going to get triple the impact of a regular game." Spartans head coach Quentin Rogers said postgame.
Former Russia head coach Dave Borchers died from a car accident Oct. 14, 2022 and his players dedicated this season to him.
Both teams started the game sloppy offensively. Richmond at one point missed 5 straight baskets and 2:18 without a basket.
Russia went 3:17 without a basket including three straight possessions with a turnover before junior guard Brayden Monnin knocked in a triple to give the Raiders a 1 point lead. Russia's defense forced five turnovers in the quarter to take a 13-8 lead after the first.
The Spartans toughness was on display in the second quarter storming back after finding themselves down seven less than two minutes into the quarter. Junior wing Hosea Steele Jr. showed his defense prowess forcing back-to-back steals, taking one coast to coast and finding a driving De'Erick Barber for a layup to quickly cut the deficit to three.
Steele became overly aggressive on defense resulting to a trip to the bench with three first half fouls midway through the third.
Richmond Heights opened the second quarter flat on offense. Russia finished the quarter on three consecutive possessions with a basket before Richmond sharpshooter Demaris Winters caught fire with a triple and steal and assist to Braylen Salters keeping the team within strike to take the lead. Dorian Jones capped off the quarter with a triple to give the Sparters a 27-25 lead at the half.
The "light switch" which can be turned on at any point by Richmond was turned on towards the end of the third. After both teams traded buckets for half of the quarter and Steele picked up his fourth foul, the duo of Winters and Jones got to work with a triple and steal leading to a dunk to give the Spartans a 41-38 lead.
Jones who's one of the most experienced guys on this young team without many seniors put the team on his back opening the fourth with two huge triples to give the Spartans a 47-40 lead. Richmond started to smother the Raiders on defense not allowing a basket for almost two minutes at one point late in the game.
Jones capped the game off with a triple and another steal leading to a thunderous dunk to secure the win.
"This isn't a game we'll forget about and just move on," Rogers said postgame. "We're going to stay up late, watch the tape, break it down, and get ready for Sunday."
The Spartans will face-off against Convoy Crestview in the Division IV Championship game Sunday at 2 p.m. at the University of Dayton Arena.
Dorian Jones led Richmond with 17 points and 7 steals. Hosea Steele Jr. added 16 points and 4 steals. Brayden Monnin led the Raiders with 20 points. Hayden Quinter finished with double-double of 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.