The lights read 17-17, 25-25, 37-37 and then 46-46. Yet again, the Musketeers boys basketball team was in a close game. But, this time, there was a different conclusion.
Boosted by defensive stops and clutch foul shooting, Richmond Academy edged Burke County 55-49 Monday night in the opening round of the Region 3-AAAA Tournament at Cross Creek.
The Musketeers travel to face Statesboro on Wednesday, with the winner assured of a state playoff berth.
The tight win followed Richmond Academy’s two-point loss to the Bears on Friday and other close defeats during region play.
“We expect close games,” Nobles said. “It is, ‘Here we go again,’ but we were prepared.”
The margin was never greater than four points until the final few seconds in Monday’s meeting, with Richmond Academy (7-16) closing the game on a 9-3 run.
Rashaud Lee’s first basket of the game handed the Musketeers the lead for good, with Moses Lewis adding three free throws — a game-deciding steal to aid the cause.
After Richmond Academy’s Tony Daggett scored his seventh point of the fourth to reach a game-high 16 points and also push the lead to 53-49, Burke County needed points in a hurry.
But before it could get off a shot, Lewis made the theft and secured the win after Zach Mitchell followed Lewis’ steal and miss at the rim.
The Bears (15-9) were paced by Janais Lewis, who had nine points.
Richmond Academy, which had been burned by close losses throughout the season, is just one victory away from a spot in the state tournament.
“It’s the first step toward the state playoffs,” Nobles said.