By Mark Carroll - Blog Coordinator
Former Norfolk State star Michael Deloach and Rhode Island guard Akeem Richmond have been two of the best scorers of the summer at the Greater NC Pro-Am. So it was no surprise to anyone that the two each scored over 25 points when going head-to-head with one another in the opening game of the playoffs.
The first quarter was a tight one, with no team ever able to pull away. Body of Christ took an early five point lead after Detwon Rodgers followed a Richmond three ball by using his post moves to get two points down low just seconds after. Hendrick of Durham would come back, as a break away slam by Deloach sparked a run for his team. Deloach's teammate, Nick Chasten, had an opportunity to tie the game at the end of the first period, but his three point attempt at the buzzer did not fall.
The scoring slowed down in the second quarter for Body of Christ, and a 360 dunk by VMI's Stanley Okoye helped Hendrick of Durham build a four point lead. Deloach (27 points) contributed to the 17-1 run, converting an old-fashioned three point play and helping his squad put together a 12 point lead.
While Hendrick of Durham appeared to be running away with the game, Richmond hit several crucial buckets to bring the deficit back within single digits. Richmond scored 17 points in the first half, including a three pointer that cut the margin to eight. His half court shot at the buzzer clanked off the front of the rim, as Hendrick of Durham remained in command, 42-34.
Body of Christ clawed their way back in the third quarter, and took their first lead of the half after Scott Grable drove through the lane for a lay-up. John Brown capped off the 15-0 run with a drive and lay-in of his own, but a deep three by James Zimmerman as time expired reclaimed the lead for Hendrick of Durham.
Excellent free throw shooting down the stretch made for a thrilling contest, and Richmond's clutch three pointers brought the crowd to its feet on numerous occasions. With just 34 seconds left on the clock, Richmond hit a shot from beyond the arc while falling down to bring the game within two points, but Hendrick of Durham had a lot of success from the charity stripe, making it difficult for Body of Christ to retake the lead. With just .7 seconds remaining, Richmond was fouled on a three point attempt and had as many free throws while trailing by four. After capitalizing on just one of the three shots, his late push proved to be too little, too late. Despite Richmond's 35 point effort, Hendrick of Durham earned the 80-77 victory.