RICHMOND – It was almost fitting that Richmond-Burton finished out the last two minutes of Tuesday night’s game without senior guard Erin Thomas, who had fouled out.
Thomas, the area’s leading scorer, was held to only 11 points against Marengo and was hampered by a hurt thumb in the second half.
But the rest of R-B’s starting five stepped up and were the difference-makers against the conference-leading Indians (17-5, 7-1 BNC East). All five starters for R-B (15-6, 6-1) scored at least six points and the Rockets avenged an early-season loss to Marengo with a 47-36 victory.
“It was a team effort and we have to get everyone involved,” said Thomas, who injured her left thumb just before halftime. “If I’m hurt, everyone else can bring up the ball and score; we can pick up each other.”
It was evident from the start that R-B was making a concerted effort to get its other starters involved. Thomas attempted only four shots in the first half. Junior forward Andrea Fox led all scorers with nine points in the first half and senior guard Sami Wilkins had six points to help give the Rockets a seven-point halftime lead.
“[Fox] has come a long way since this is her first year on varsity,” R-B coach Melanie Hinz said. “It’s kind of a learning experience for her.”
Thomas fought through the pain in the second half. The senior guard banked in a lefty runner midway through the third quarter and later got an easy layup in transition to give the Rockets a 13-point lead.
Marengo never cut the lead to less than eight in the fourth quarter thanks to R-B’s stingy zone defense.
“The first time we played them we went man-to-man and they just drove on us,” Hinz said. “We thought if we mixed it up a bit and kept them on their toes they wouldn’t get in a routine of driving and driving. It forced them to pull back and take the shots from the outside.”
Marengo shot only 4 of 19 from beyond the arc, making only one three-pointer after halftime.
“Last night we gave a lot of energy into the game we had against Prairie Ridge,” Marengo coach Nick Rode said. “Like I told the girls, better to get that out of the way now than come regional time.”
Alex Callanan led R-B with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Molly Richardson had 13 points for Marengo.
R-B’s win gave each team one conference loss, and with both teams favored to win their remaining conference games, a split championship is likely.
“It’s been a while, it would be good to win,” Hinz said. “But it’d be fine to share.”