GENOA – Brandon Creason wasn’t going to let Tommy Lucca beat his team.
Richmond-Burton’s coach had watched the Genoa-Kingston sophomore dominate the fourth quarter, so with Creason’s team up three points in the closing seconds of Friday’s Big Northern East contest, Creason had his team foul Lucca instead of letting him attempt a game-tying 3-pointer.
Lucca hit both free throws. After the Rockets’ Joe St. Pierre missed his two free-throw attempts on the ensuing possession, Lucca had one more chance with three seconds left, but his desperation attempt was no good, as the Rockets held on for a 66-65 win.
Richmond-Burton (17-6, 8-1 Big Northern East) remained in control of the conference. The Cogs fall to 14-9 and 6-4 in league play.
Lucca still finished the game with 33 points – 17 in the fourth quarter.
“As on fire as he was we didn’t want to give him the opportunity to make the shot,” Creason said of his team’s late foul on Lucca, which came with under 10 seconds remaining. “He’s a ton. I wish he was a senior.”
With 31 seconds left, Lucca tied the game at 63 with a 3-pointer, but Richmond-Burton took a three-point lead when St. Pierre hit a layup, was fouled and hit the free throw.
That makes back-to-back 30-point games for Lucca, who had 31 against Marengo on Tuesday. Tommy Hansen had 11 for the Cogs and Sal Lopez finished with nine.
“I felt that we had to push the tempo, get easy buckets and get more teammates involved,” Lucca said of the fourth-quarter effort.
The game was called very tight, as Richmond-Burton shot 30 free throws, converting 26. G-K was 17 of 24 from the line. Both Sal Lopez and Griffin McNeal fouled out for G-K, while the Rockets lost St. Pierre for an extended period of time in the second half due to foul trouble. Both teams were in the double bonus early in the fourth quarter.
G-K had some success pressing the Rockets, who turned the ball over 15 times. Cogs coach Corey Jenkins likes his team’s depth, and was comfortable rotating guys in with the way the game was called.
“We’ve got to find our identity again defensively. I think we lost it during Christmas and the week after,” Jenkins said. “We started pressing Marengo in the second half, and we loved our effort. Our effort was much better. We wanted to control the tempo of tonight’s game and made the decision as a coaching staff, let’s press them and find ourselves again.”