Richland utilized two runs of 10 or more points in the second half to defeat the Tigers 66-49
In the first two quarters of Tuesday's basketball game between the Richland Bears (4-5) and Houston Tigers, the margin between the two was never larger than seven.
That changed quickly in the second half when the Bears flipped a switch and used large runs at the beginning of each of the final quarters to pull away in a 66-49 victory at home in their first game in 18 days.
Senior Dillon Zeigenbein was one of the benefactors of the second-half surge. He had 14 of his 19 points in the third and fourth quarters.
“I think it was a whole team effort,” Zeigenbein said of Tuesday's win in which the Bears never trailed. “We kind of had to shake the rust off coming off a two-week break. We didn't have any holiday tournaments or any games scheduled over Christmas break. We just had to come out in the second half and turn it up a notch.”
First-quarter threes from Tanner Riddle and Ethan Fagre helped Richland to a 13-7 lead after the first eight minutes.
A 7-2 run by Houston, including a bucket with about two ticks left on the clock, to end the half trimmed the Bears' lead to 22-20.
Richland coach Anthony Caruso made a halftime adjustment to his defense in an attempt to help his struggling defense.
“Coach [Rod] Gorman, he runs that motion offense to a 'T' and my guys, they had a hard time matching up,” Caruso said. “So, we said hey, We're going to make and adjustment in the second half and we're going to come out and zone these guys because they're killing us off this motion that they're running.”
It was more so the offense that stepped up in the final frames, however.
After the Tigers opened scoring in the third and tied the game at 22, Zeigenbein scored on three-straight Richland possessions to begin a 10-0 run in a span of 1:34.
Zeigenbein had eight points in the quarter that saw the Bears take a 44-33 lead.
“Dillon was the biggest guy on the floor today and he started playing like he was the biggest guy on the floor today,” Caruso said. “He's really working hard at finishing around the basket.”
The Bears opened the fourth with a 13-2 run, this one led by senior guard Riddle who had eight points in that stretch.
Riddle led all scorers with 20 points Tuesday.
Fagre, with 11 points, was the other Bear in double digits. Bryan Buckley chipped in seven, Bridger Lobland three, Evan Adams and Jordan Baldwin both had two.
Houston was led by Lucas Kelley's 15 points. Ty McCloud and Kyler Ramsey had nine, Isaiah Buse eight, Cameron Root four, Michael Clayton and Clayton Moore each had two.
To ring in the new year with by far the team's most lopsided win was a much-needed boost to the Bears Zeigenbein said.
“It feels good to finally get a big win under our belt. We've had a lot of close calls, we've had a lot of overtimes and had a lot of nail-biters that we probably should have won.”