With a win against Marengo in Richmond Friday night, the Richmond-Burton boys basketball team could have taken a two-game lead in the Big Northern Conference East Division with only two games left.
Marengo, who came into the game two games behind R-B, had other ideas.
Zach Knobloch of Marengo hit the game winning 3-pointer with five seconds left to give the Indians a 54-51 win.
“That was a good team we beat there, and we were fortunate enough to execute down the stretch to get the win,” Marengo coach Will Benson said. “I’m certainly proud of our kid’s effort regardless of the result and that was just a good high school basketball game.”
The teams exchanged the lead a few times in the final quarter, but it was Knobloch that had the final say.
After a defensive stand, the Indians (18-10, 8-3 BNC East) got the ball back with 30 seconds left and held on to it until the final five, when Knobloch buried his third 3-pointer of the quarter to give Marengo the lead. R-B's Sam Kaufman had one last chance to tie it at the buzzer but the effort came up short.
“We came out in the second half fired up and wanted to win real badly,” Knobloch said. “We played hard with everyone contributing to the team. They gave me the last open shot and I knocked it down with confidence.”
Knobloch finished with a team-high 20 points, including six 3-pointers.
The Indians ran out to a 13-8 lead when Kaufman went on a run. Kaufman scored the next nine points, including two 3-pointers, a dunk and two steals, to turn a five-point deficit into a four point R-B lead.
After trailing by seven in the third, Marengo battled back with a 14-6 run that gave them the 39-38 lead late in the third. Koty Kissack completed the rally for Marengo after he was thrown to the ground and still managed to convert his two-point basket.
Kissack was big for Marengo, scoring nine of his 13 points after the half.
The win was the eighth in 10 games for Marengo and it tightened up the top of the standings in the BNC East. Richmond-Burton’s lead over Marengo and Burlington Central is now cut to one game in the loss column.
R-B and Central still each have two games to play, one against each other, while Marengo finishes up with Harvard at home.
The Rockets’ (18-7, 8-2 BNC East) struggles on offense and rebounding on the defense were the main problems in the loss.
Kaufman was the only offensive threat for much of the game for R-B, leading all scorers with 23 points.
“We didn’t rebound on the defensive end, and it seemed like if Sam didn’t score, we didn’t score,” R-B coach Brandon Creason said. “They did a good job defensively and we missed some easy shots.”