NEW PARIS, Ohio
For the second year in a row, Richmond’s Red Devils are off to a 4-0 start in girls basketball.
Win No. 4 of this season had the Devils crossing the border to Ohio to take on nearby National Trail. Mackenzie Taylor poured in 27 points as Richmond stayed unbeaten with a physical 61-48 Friday night victory over the Blazers.
Taylor made it to the free-throw line 17 times and the sophomore sank 11 of them. She also nailed back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute of the first quarter that gave the Red Devils momentum after they started the game with a 7-0 deficit.
“We practice free throws a lot. (They’re) very important,” said Taylor, who also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in the Red Devil victory. “They could have come back if we didn’t (make them).”
RHS had to rally early.
The Blazers scored the game’s first seven points after a steal and layup by Miranda Mize, a Paige Thompson bucket, a Jenn Stan free throw and a field goal by Tiffany Jordan that capped the run at 4:44.
Taylor got the Red Devils on the scoreboard about 15 seconds later. Her late-quarter 3-pointers gave Richmond an 18-11 advantage going into the second period.
The Red Devils didn’t look back, keeping a double-digit lead for most of the rest of the way.
“We definitely got this one to our tempo,” said RHS coach Casey Pohlenz, whose team was a game removed from Wednesday’s 51-46 dogfight with Northeastern that saw the Devils come back on the Knights in the fourth quarter.
“Give credit to Trail. We never could get that knockout punch. We had them on the ropes. … They played really hard and did a nice job.”
The Blazers also had to combat foul trouble from the first quarter on.
Before the final buzzer sounded, Trail had four players, three of them starters, foul out.
Jordan had a team-high 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the home team in its season opener, and teammate Thompson netted 12 points.
“We played hard for the first three or four minutes, and for the last four minutes. We just have to have that for 32 minutes,” said Blazers coach Troy Ferguson. “We scrambled at the end. We were getting after it with four girls sitting on the bench.
“We’ll just learn from it. First night, that’s all you can do right now is learn.”
Brooklyn Taylor scored 10 points and had seven rebounds for Richmond, but left the game early in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.
Richmond also was without senior guard Whitney Hampton, who injured her knee in Wednesday’s win over Northeastern.
Contributions came from up and down the Red Devil lineup, though. Alexis Davis scored nine points and swished a pair of 3-pointers, Paetyn Claiborne paired eight points with five rebounds and Takeisha Foust grabbed four boards.
“Trail played tough. It was a real physical game,” Pohlenz said. “We were down 7-0, and they just kept playing. That’s what I’m proud about. They didn’t get frustrated. They just played through it.”
Richmond takes its perfect record on the road today at Rushville. The Lions are 2-2.
“It’s going to be a good environment,” Pohlenz said. “It’ll be a great test for us. It’ll be a good road test to see where we are against a great team with great tradition. Those games are fun.”