RICHMOND – It was obvious early on that points would not come easily in the Big Northern East division clash between the Richmond-Burton and Harvard boys basketball teams in Richmond Friday night.
The Rockets’ defense made things difficult all night for Harvard and, because of that, were able to have a relatively off offensive night in their 58-35 win on senior night.
The Rockets missed 21 shots in the first half yet still managed to lead 29-18, mainly because of their defense.
“I thought our defensive intensity was good especially after everything else was so flat in the first half,” R-B coach Brandon Creason said. “It helped that we started to make shots in the second half, but we didn’t play as well as we’re capable tonight.”
At the beginning of the game, R-B had four of the five tallest individuals on the floor, and they used that length to make shooting difficult for Harvard.
The Hornets shot just 13 of 37 from the field and 2 of 23 from behind the arc. Senior Danny Rygiel was a big part of the Rocket defensive effort.
“I’ve always prided myself on defense and, if I can’t score, I have to do something to help the team,” Rygiel said. “I’ve always wanted to be that kid that makes the hustle plays and makes big stops on defense that helps us get back on offense.”
Rygiel was one of a few Rockets that made things difficult for Harvard leading scorer Justin Nolen. After scoring six points in the first quarter, Nolen was never able to string together enough offense to keep his team in it.
The Rockets (16-5, 6-1 BNC East) didn’t come out flat in the second half and began to further pull away. Sam Kaufman led all scorers with 14 points, including 10 in the first half. Senior Brian Wells finished with 10 and freshman Blaine Bayer added 9.
The Hornets (9-13, 2-4 BNC East) turned the ball over 17 times and couldn’t improve on their 8-4 record in 2014 games.
“We couldn’t make shots and you have to control the ball and make those shots when you’re open against R-B, and that was our biggest problem today,” Harvard coach Donnie Nolen said.
“They always give me all that they have, it just wasn’t enough tonight.”
Nolen and Tate Miller led the Hornets with 12 points each and Peyton Schneider added seven.