By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Richmond’s boys basketball team sent a message Friday night that should reverberate throughout the North Central Conference.
Primarily utilizing a stifling 2-3 zone and a highly efficient half-court offense, the visiting Red Devils held Anderson to its second-lowest point total of the season and left with a dominant 70-58 victory.
The win positions Richmond (13-5, 4-1 NCC) for a possible conference championship showdown at Kokomo on Feb. 15. And it leaves the Indians (13-4, 3-2) with more than a little soul searching on the to-do list.
“These guys play like they’re satisfied with the season they’ve had so far,” Anderson coach Joe Nadaline said. “I gotta find a way to change that. When you have a team that’s a veteran team and they play like they’re satisfied, that’s a bad combination.”
This has been a solid bounce-back season for the Indians after three years filled with mediocrity. Anderson already has matched its win total for the past two seasons combined and has its most victories since the 2008-09 campaign.
But if the Tribe hopes to match that season’s sectional title run, it’s going to need to pick up its play down the stretch.
Friday’s loss was the second straight in league play for the Indians and the second in the past three games overall. And it came on the heels of tight wins against Marion, Leo and Fort Wayne Snider in recent weeks.
“It’s been building up,” Nadaline said of the elements for the collapse against the Red Devils. “In the games previous to this, we weren’t putting together good games. We didn’t play a good second half against Kokomo (in a loss last week). We didn’t play a good two-thirds of the game against Snider (last Saturday), but we ended up winning. And then this was absolutely pathetic tonight.”
Nothing went right for the Indians after they surrendered a 12-9 lead midway through the first quarter.
Anderson struggled to get good looks against Richmond’s zone defense, and when it did they often didn’t fall. The Tribe shot just 42.2 percent from the field and was outrebounded 37-32. The hosts also lost the turnover battle, suffering seven more miscues than the guard-heavy Red Devils.
Richmond made its move at the start of the second half, using a 15-2 run to turn a six-point halftime lead into a commanding 45-26 advantage. The cushion never dipped below double-digits again.
“We didn’t execute anything in the game plan,” Nadaline said. “Nothing. Zero. And that’s disappointing.”
The Red Devils got big games from their stars. Senior Charles Hampton poured in a game-high 26 points on 10-for-18 shooting, and sophomore Davious Webster added 13 points, hitting 5 of his 8 attempts from the field.
Meanwhile, Anderson’s stars struggled.
The Indians’ three most consistent scoring threats — Tre Boyd, Chris Lemon and Jalin Beard — combined for just nine points through the first three quarters.
Junior Kenya Wilkerson finished with a team-high 11 points, and senior Peyton Newsom added 10 off the bench. Lemon and Boyd scored nine each, and Beard finished with seven.
Anderson returns to conference play next Thursday at Muncie Central, and Nadaline said the team has to do decide to improve from within during the interim.
“We need a break,” he said. “We need to take two days — Saturday and Sunday — to re-energize. Then we’ll load up Monday and get after it. The only way to get yourselves out of these slumps is to pull up your bootstraps, work your tail off and get through it.”