Lamar played from behind for nearly three full quarters.
Aided by 19 of his team’s 28 first-half points, Caleb Taylor helped race Russell Christian out to as much as an 11-point lead, while Hayden Crist scored the other nine.
But after crawling their way back, the Raiders opened the fourth quarter with a game-tying 3-pointer from Ross Polizzi before Marshall Ward followed with a short jumper off an in-bounds play under the basket to gain the lead, which Lamar kept for the final seven minutes to come away with a 60-50 victory Tuesday at home.
“We went in at halftime, I said, ‘We’re getting beat by one man,’” Lamar head coach Steve Nelson said of Taylor’s performance. “Second half, we went to the zone-style pressure, and I guess it seemed like it frustrated him, and bothered the other kids.”
After Ward’s go-ahead bucket, the Raiders scored six straight points to lead 46-38 before tensions mounted, and they were ultimately called for a technical foul. Taylor’s one made free throw, and two shots made at the line on back-to-back possessions, cut the Warriors’ deficit to five. Crist then scored four quick points off an offensive rebound and a steal to make it a three-point game with 3:13 left to play.
RCA’s offense was stifled from there, however, as Lamar hit 13 free throws, 10 coming from Hayden Reid, for the duration of the contest to seal the win.
“We made some mistakes handling the ball, we made some mistakes in taking some crazy shots, but we had a chance there at the end, and we missed three layups in a row,” RCA head coach Doug Moody said. “(Lamar) hit its free throws, and that’s what sunk us.”
Taylor scored just five points in the second half but finished with a game-high 24 and added nine rebounds and going 8-for-10 from the charity stripe. Crist also poured in 22 points and seven rebounds.
The Warriors got off to a hot start, leading 14-5 after the first quarter behind nine points from Taylor. A 3-pointer from Polizzi helped spark the Raiders’ comeback, making it a two-point contest. After outscoring RCA 18-14 in the second quarter, Lamar still trailed 28-23 at the half before Polizzi hit a 3 and a layup to tie the game. Will Morris’s shot gave Lamar a lead, which was quickly doused by Taylor, and six points from Crist to end the period gave RCA a 38-35 advantage.
The Warriors were outscored 25-12 in the final quarter by the Raiders.
Polizzi had 11 points in the second half to end the night with a team-high 15, and he also picked up a double-double with 13 rebounds. Freshman Michael Lee Buffington tallied a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards as well, and Reid added 12 points, going 10-for-10 at the line in the fourth quarter.
“We still did a lot of dumb things down the stretch to keep it as close as it was,” Nelson said. “We’re still learning, and we’re going to get better, because a lot of these kids haven’t played but seven games.”
LAMAR GIRLS 64, RCA 26
The Lady Raiders got double-digit performances from four different players and cruised to 38-point home win Tuesday.
Skylar Norman led Lamar with 13 points, while Erica Smith and Lydia Hutcherson each had 12, and Sarah Dudley Reed added 10.
RCA was led by Regan Bryant, who scored 13 points, and Wynecia Willis, who had 11.