NORTON — Open Door needed one more push to overcome Richmond Heights on Friday.
It never came.
The Patriots rallied from 10 down in the third quarter to within one possession of the Spartans on three occasions in the fourth, but couldn’t come up with the go-ahead bucket as Richmond Heights prevailed 78-66 in the Division IV district championship at Norton High School.
Richmond Heights (19-6) advances to the regional semifinals, while Open Door’s season comes to a close at 20-5.
“The season was incredible,” Patriots coach Todd Wright said. “It was historic in a lot of ways. We tied for the most wins in school history, a guy set a school scoring record, all of those things. But what made it special was those 10 guys. The way that they battled, they showed that work pays off and being close together pays off. We talked about the biblical concept of reaping what you sow, and they sowed hard work since Day One from last offseason. As a result, they saw success.”
Open Door came out swinging, weathering some initial adversity — Trey Brooks and Jared Bublinec picked up offensive fouls on the first two Patriots possessions — to open a 16-7 lead.
Open Door caught fire from three, connecting on 5-of-10 in the first quarter. Bublinec, Carter Wright and Gavin Dobbins each hit a three during the 11-0 run pushed the lead to nine. Bublinec closed the quarter with another three and finished the game with four to go with a team-high 16 points.
Richmond Heights adjusted quickly in the second quarter, going on a 14-4 run to take a 28-26 lead thanks largely to a big spark off the bench from B.J. Carter, who scored six points during the spurt. He may have made a bigger impact had he not picked up his third foul with 3:20 left in the half.
He came back in the second half to finish with 14 points and tie for the team lead in rebounds with eight.
“We were getting a lot of drive and kicks in that first quarter, a lot of things were opening up for us when we made drives,” Wright said. “But in the second quarter, they picked it up in that man-to-man defense. They made it really hard to get into the middle and really capitalized when we made a mistake. They’re really tough to stop in transition, nearly impossible.”
Brooks, who averaged just over 17 points this season, was held scoreless in the first half, missing all four of his 3-point attempts. He ended the skid at just the right time, capping a 7-0 run with a layup to give Open Door a 39-37 lead.
It was short-lived, however, as Richmond Heights responded with 10 unanswered points and ultimately went up 10 with 34 seconds left in the quarter.
The Patriots didn’t fold, opening the fourth on a 5-1 run capped by a runner plus a free throw from Wright to make it 53-50. But the Spartans answered, eventually going back up six. Miles Hunt converted an offensive rebound and a free throw to bring Open Door back within three with 3:52 to play.
A Richmond Heights offensive foul gave the Patriots a chance to tie. Bublinec pump-faked his defender on the 3-point line and buried a jumper from the elbow, cutting the deficit to 61-60. Anthony Maxie, however, responded with back-to-back plays and Open Door never got back within one possession.
“We couldn’t move on offense,” Bublinec said. “We weren’t moving on offense very well. Props to them, they played a great game. They played better than us tonight. We had some opportunities to get things close or tie it up and just couldn’t hit it.”
Richmond Heights 78, Open Door 66
OPEN DOOR (66): Trey Brooks 6-0-13, Jared Bublinec 5-2-16, Miles Hunt 6-1-15, Carter Wright 4-2-12, Gavin Dobbins 3-0-8, Mason Wiley 0-0-0, Josh Zaborowski 1-0-2, Mark Yakobchuk 0-0-0, Tylan Neadham 0-0-0, Caleb Daniel 0-0-0. Totals 25-5-66.
RICHMOND HEIGHTS (78): Curtis Houston 5-3-16, Jevontae Jones 3-1-7, Gbolahan Adio 8-0-18, Anthony Maxie 4-1-9, Jamarr Talbert 5-1-14, B.J. Carter 4-6-14, Isaiah Martin 0-0-0. Totals 29-12-78.
Open Door 22 10 13 21 — 66
Richmond Heights 14 23 15 26 — 78
Three-point goals: Open Door 11-28 (Bublinec 4, Dobbins 2, Hunt 2, Wright 2, Brooks), Richmond Heights 8-22 (Houston 3, Talbert 3, Adio 2). Field goals: Open Door 25-55 (46 percent), Richmond Heights 29-59 (49 percent). Free throws: Open Door 5-9 (56 percent), Richmond Heights 12-16 (75 percent). Rebounds: Open Door 21 (Brooks 7), Richmond Heights 31 (Carter 8, Talbert 8). Total fouls: Open Door 15, Richmond Heights 16. Fouled out: Wright. Turnovers: Open Door 20, Richmond Heights 10.