HAMLET — Oregon-Davis junior point guard Zach Richie waited for the game to come to him Thursday against Argos.
And when it did, he latched on and never relinquished control.
After distributing the ball for four assists in the first half, Richie, the state’s leading scorer, exploded for 35 of his game-high 47 points in the second half — 22 in the fourth quarter alone — to lead the Bobcats to an 80-74 boys hoops win over the Dragons at The Den.
“The way Argos plays defense, and the way they try to slow the ball down, Zach wanted to find other people early in the game,” OD head coach Matt Richie, Zach’s dad, said. “The guys were able to find spots and Zach was able to find them for baskets. I’m proud of the way he was looking to get other people involved. I’m proud of the way he let the game come to him.
“It was a nice effort all around,” he added. “It was a good win for us. I’m proud of how hard the guys played. They did a good job understanding their roles.”
Locked in a seesaw battle, Zach Richie tipped the game in OD’s favor for good with a transition trey from the top of the key — his only bomb of the night — to make the score 64-61 with 3:43 left in the contest.
Although Argos then pulled within two points twice — the final time on a Matt Hollar bucket for a 68-66 mark with 2:48 left in the final frame — a quick helter-skelter 9-2 run gave the Cats the biggest spread for either team in the second half.
“This year the loose balls seem to be favoring the other team,” the OD skipper said. “Tonight the loose balls seemed to be winding up in our hands. The team that is more experienced seems to get more loose balls; I think our experience helped us come up with some of those loose balls that bounced our way.”
Zach Richie, who put his team up 73-66 with a conventional 3-point play at the 2:20 mark, helped the Cats sew up the win with an 11-of-12 fourth-quarter performance from the charity stripe.
For the game, Richie finished 15 of 33 from the field and 16 of 20 from the free-throw line, set up largely by unrelenting dribble penetration. He upped his scoring average to 43.1 points a game in the process.
“Our plan was to rotate three guys on (Richie), try to force him to his left, and get a lot of help-side defense,” Argos head coach Doug Snyder said. “We know he’s a good shooter, and he’s going to get his shots in the offense.
“In the first half I thought we did a pretty good job against him,” he continued. “In the second half we had a breakdown of our help side. We needed to help quicker on both he and (Craig) McIntosh; not let them get so deep before they get the shot off.”
Also for OD, the 5-foot-6 McIntosh utilized his own dribble-penetration skills en route to 15 points before fouling out, and 5-10 junior forward Zachary Taylor yanked down a team-best 12 rebounds.
“Craig did all of that with a nice, swollen ankle,” the OD boss said. “He didn’t practice last week, and he didn’t practice this week. He’s just a hard-nosed kid. The kid’s got some hops for his size, and he’s very muscular.
“Zach Taylor has been a rebounding monster all year,” he continued. “He enjoys rebounding and enjoys the physical nature of going against guys bigger than him. His rebounding was huge for us tonight.”
Hollar led four Dragons in double figures with 20 points. Freshman guard Dominic Cataldo chipped in 17 points and seven assists for winless Argos; Sam Edmonds put up 14 points and seven boards; and Dylan Colburn submitted a double-double with 12 points and a game-best 19 rebounds.
“Our kids competed,” Snyder said. “With the kind of year we’ve had we need to win a game like this to get over the hump.”
However, Argos turned the ball over 28 times and wound up a miserable 18 of 37 from the foul line.
“The game could have been ours,” Snyder said. “We made enough mistakes of our own. We could have taken control of the game. If we clean up the free throws and turnovers we could have won this game.”
The Cats head to LaVille for first-round Bi-County action Tuesday. Argos travels to South Central Saturday.
• OREGON-DAVIS 80,
Score by quarters
Argos: 16 31 50 74
OD: 13 36 52 80
ARGOS (74): Zach Hartman 0 0-0 0, Duane Spencer 1 1-2 3, Matt Hollar 5 7-10 20, Dylan Colburn 6 0-7 12, Sam Edmonds 4 6-9 14, Zackery Smith 0 0-0 0, Dominic Cataldo 7 1-5 17, Taylor Ogle 2 3-4 8, Brian Snyder 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 25 18-37 74.
OD (80): Zach Richie 15 16-20 47, Dalton Taylor 1 0-0 2, William Becker 0 0-0 0, Craig McIntosh 6 3-9 15, Marc Edwards 2 0-0 5, Nolan Coffin 0 0-0 0, Ricardo Mastrocesare 0 0-0 0, Kenneth VandeMieroop 1 0-0 3, Zachary Taylor 2 1-2 7, Nathan Boyle 0 1-2 1. TOTALS: 27 21-33 80.
3-point goals: Argos 6 (Hollar 3, Cataldo 2, Ogle), OD 5 (Z. Taylor 2, Richie, Edwards, VandeMieroop); Turnovers: Argos 29, OD 16; Rebounds: Argos 45 (Colburn 19), OD 41 (Z. Taylor 12); Assists: Argos 16 (Cataldo 7), OD 8 (Richie 5); Steals: Argos 3 (Ogle 2), OD 4; Fouls (fouled out): Argos 28 (Spencer), OD 28 (McIntosh, VandeMieroop); Records: Argos 0-10, OD 3-8.