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Tartan continues to right its wrongs. The Titans used a 73-60 victory over Richfield on Friday night at home to make up for their second of two losses against Minnesota teams this season.
It's been hard, though, for Tartan to forget those defeats. The first, an 83-80 loss to Mahtomedi, ended on a last-second heave from halfcourt. The second, a 76-75 loss to Richfield, ended with Louis Williams rebounding his own miss and tipping in a game-winner as time expired.
"That sunk into our stomachs a little bit," Tartan senior guard Xavier Hall said. "But we couldn't let it get us down on our floor."
Hall and fellow senior guard Kharie Kirkland made sure it didn't.
Racing up and down the court against Richfield's fleet lineup, the Tartan guards managed to create lanes to the basket and keep the defense scrambling.
Tartan (17-3) was more than prepared for the speed of Richfield (13-7) after finishing a step behind a month ago on the road.
Titans coach Mark Klingsporn had his team scrimmage 7-on-5 all week to keep up with what it would face on Friday.
The extra bodies and creative game plan worked.
"It's because [Richfield is] everywhere on the floor," Kirkland said.
"We had to be strong and make smart passes."
The guard led by example. When Kirkland wasn't building on his 17-point total, he was getting the ball to Hall (14 points) or Michael Wales (11 points).
Richfield couldn't say the same about its passing in the second half.
The Spartans got within two possessions several times late in the game but turned the ball over frequently while trying to force it upcourt.
"Discipline and mental toughness were the difference," Williams said after finishing with 19 points. "We had too many turnovers and didn't stick together."
Tartan limited the effectiveness of standout Richfield forward Deshawn Jones. Though he led the Spartans with 20 points, his numbers were down significantly from the teams' first meeting.
Class 4A's No. 7-ranked Titans also avenged their loss to Mahtomedi with a double-digit victory, 77-64.
Kirkland said the two blemishes on the Titans' season have been corrected and now the team can move forward without dwelling on what could have been.