CLAYTON — Senior guard Rodney Richardson scored a career-high 26 points on a night when Northmont needed a big boost to narrowly defeat Miamisburg, 74-71.
The Thunderbolts came out flat as the Vikings jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Arius Spears scored the Bolts first basket of the evening and followed that up with a 3-pointer before the rest of his teammates began to find their feet.
Richardson scored in the paint, Vinson Walker got three baskets and Christian Wilson buried a trey at the end of the period to give Northmont a 16-15 lead. Donavin Wallace opened the second quarter with another 3-pointer for Northmont and Wilson scored to boost the Thunderbolts’ lead to 21-15.
Miamisburg fought hard all night and kept the heat on. The Vikings tied the game 25-25 midway through the quarter on a basket inside by Jason Hubbard before Northmont took a 37-31 lead at the half.
But the Vikings refused to go away. Hubbard sliced inside repeatedly to score a few reverse layups and a couple easy buckets to tally nine third quarter points Duncan Hall, Eric Boykin, Evan Fox and Lathan Hartman chipped in with three points each to keep Miamisburg with five points entering the final quarter.
Richardson led Northmont with 10 third quarter points and nine in the fourth to stave-off the relentless Miamisburg attack.
“We’ve been going hard in practice and everybody has just been giving it their all,” Richardson said. “Our seniors have been playing together since elementary school. There is a lot of love. We hang out every day and talk about basketball, basketball, basketball. That’s all there is. Tournament, we want to make a strong run but first we have to win league.”
Richardson said in the first half he wasn’t really feeling it, but that he always wants to get his teammates involved so he dished the ball to the inside players or kicked it outside. In the second half he noticed Christian Wilson was starting to cramp up, so he knew he had to kick it in gear.
And that’s just what he did; scoring 19 of his 26 points in the second half.
“Rodney is that guy that he can score in flurries,” said Northmont Coach Collin Abels. “He’s got a knack to get to the rim and obviously tonight he made some jump shots. He has done a great job in the off season making himself a much better threat from the perimeter, and when you are that quick and they have to respect your outside shot it opens up a lot of opportunities. I’m just tickled for him and really the entire senior class and all of the work that they have put in. I know it’s early, but I’ve said this and I will continue to say it, I love coaching this basketball team. They are a fun group of guys to be around.”
What wasn’t fun was seeing Northmont take a 10 point, 71-61 lead with 1:49 remaining and then make some huge mistakes to let the Vikings get back into the game. Hall scored inside and drew foul from Vinson Walker. Hall missed the free throw but Hartman got the rebound and scored to cut the Thunderbolts’ lead to 71-65.
On the ensuing change of possession Northmont committed a turnover and Evan Fox scored and drew a foul by Arius Spears. Luckily, Fox also failed to convert the free throw but with 32 seconds left Northmont was clinging to a four point lead.
After the timeout Spears fouled Eric Boykin on a 3-point attempt. Boykin sank two of three from the charity stripe to cut Northmont’s lead to 71-69. Richardson, who has been dead-on from the foul line, sank a pair of free throws after drawing a foul from Boykin to make it 73-69.
Hartman answered with a basket for the Vikings to make it a two point game and Miamisburg called timeout with 2.1 seconds left. When Northmont put the ball in play Boykin fouled Jabari Perkins who sank the front end of a one-and-one to make the final tally 74-71.
With the win Northmont improves to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in division play while Miamisburg falls to 2-2 and 0-1. Abels is happy to see his team get off to a strong start, but acknowledged work still remains to be done.
“You want to be excited and celebrate every victory, but I told the players to enjoy the victory but obviously we are not satisfied,” Abels said. “We had an opportunity up 71-61 with two minutes to play and we let them get it down to a two point game. If we are the kind of basketball team that we think we are, you don’t let teams do that. You don’t let them get back in the game. You put them away. Tonight was good. We faced a little adversity. Early on we didn’t have the energy but we got it going after a slow start. If you win a game in the GWOC you’ve got to bring your lunch pail. It is good teams, good coaches and it’s not easy so we won’t take it for granted but we won’t be satisfied either.”
Saturday night the Thunderbolts will host Belmont and on Tuesday host Fairmont. Both games tip off at 7:30 p.m.
MBG 15 31 52 71 – 71
NMT 16 37 57 74 – 74
Miamisburg: Eric Boykin 9, Kyle Fox 3, Evan Fox 8, Lathan Hartman 19, Jason Hubbard 15, Duncan Hall 17. Totals: 26-13-71.
Northmont: Anthony Dorsey 3, Jabari Perkins 3, Rodney Richardson 26, Christian Wilson 10, Vinson Walker 19, Arius Spears 9, Donavin Wallace 3, DaLonte Capers 1. Totals: 28-13-74.
3-point baskets: Miamisburg 6 (Hubbard 2, E. Fox 2, K. Fox, Boykin); Northmont 5 (Richardson 2, Wilson, Spears, Wallace).
Records: Miamisburg 2-2 (0-1); Northmont 3-0 (2-0).
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind