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Saturday, January 29, 2011
6-5A leader Richland clamps down on Irving

By Randy Jennings

IRVING, Texas -- Irving needed a big offensive performance from 6-foot-4 sophomore Keith Frazier to have a shot at ending Richland’s unbeaten run in District 6-5A.

To slow Frazier in Friday‘s showdown at Tigers Gym, the Rebels countered with a sophomore of their own, 6-foot-7 Leyton Hammonds.

Score this one for the defense. With the long arms of Hammonds in his face most of the evening, Frazier finished 4-for-25 from the field in Richland's 65-59 victory.

“My whole mindset is to stop my man first and then think about offense,’’ Hammonds said. “That wouldn't change even if I was playing against LeBron.’’

Richland improved to 19-4 for the season and 11-0 in 6-5A.

“Our length gave them trouble,’’ said Richland coach Richard Bacon. “We’ve got three 6-7 guys on the floor. We contest a lot of shots.’’

It is defense, said Hammonds, that makes Richland one of the best teams in the state.

“Not a lot of people make shots with hands in their face,’’ he said.

Hammonds finished off his night with a 3-pointer and 4-of-4 foul shots in the fourth quarter to frustrate Irving’s comeback hopes.

Frazier needed 17 more field goal attempts to outscore Hammonds, 14-12.

“He’s a good shooter, quick with the ball,’’ Hammonds said of Frazier. “I tried to get in his head early and get him to bicker at the ref. I’m not a big fan of trash-talk, but I’ll say ‘good shot’ on a miss, that kind of thing.’’

It is the type of tactics Hammonds uses with success in one-on-one games against his older brother Justin, a 6-foot-7 senior bound for the Air Force Academy. Older brother had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Leading Richland’s balanced attack was 6-foot-7 junior Kris Brown with 14 points.

Houston recruit J.J. Thompson, a 6-foot senior guard, scored 12 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to keep Irving (17-11, 9-3) within striking distance.

The Tigers' second loss in three days dropped them to third place in 6-5A with four games remaining in the regular season.

Richland’s girls team made a it clean sweep by defeating Irving, 52-20, in the preliminary game.