The Red Devils will be tested in different ways this weekend.
A scheduled back-to-back weekend of Richmond boys basketball at Tiernan Center brings Class 4A No. 9 North Central to town tonight, followed by East Central visiting on Saturday.
Another challenge: winter weather, including snow, is in the forecast.
The ninth-ranked Panthers are 0-1 after dropping a 67-63 decision to Indianapolis Pike last week, but North Central sophomore Eron Gordon, younger brother of NBA star Eric Gordon, led all scorers with 33 points.
“Gordon is as good a player as it gets,” said RHS coach Joe Luce.
“North Central is one of the top programs in Indiana since I can remember. We’re thrilled to have an opportunity to play them.”
But, Luce said, it’s also an opportunity for the Panthers to play the Red Devils.
RHS is 1-0 and 19th in Class 4A. The Red Devils opened with a 67-55 victory over Dayton Thurgood Marshall, a team that spent time last year ranked first in Ohio’s Division II.
“I think we offer a good challenge,” Luce said.
The key word for Richmond last week was depth.
Mike Tillman led all scorers with 21 points, but 10 Red Devils found their way into the box score. Devin Thomas and Auntonio Brown scored eight points each, with Nick Thomas and Davious Webster netting six and Isaiah Rader five.
It was a good way to open for a new-look team.
“I was glad (for them) to get on the floor and have success,” Luce said. “I’m excited for them and happy for them and eager to see if they build on that.”
Luce said he does not expect 6-foot-9 senior Zach Lett to play in this weekend’s games.
Lett injured his ankle early in the second half against Marshall.
“We do not want to rush him,” Luce said. “We want him to be in a position to help us down the road.”
North Central won last year’s contest 79-54 in Indianapolis, and the Panthers held off RHS 76-68 two years ago at Tiernan Center.
North Central was No. 1 that year, and Richmond put a scare into the Panthers before they pulled away late.
“North Central is a really tough team, always, every year,” Tillman said. “We know they are going to be like that, up in our face, so we’re going to have to use our good offense and play some good defense like we did (against Marshall).”
Gordon led all scorers in last year’s game with 22 points, though Luce cautioned that North Central has more weapons at its disposal than only its super sophomore.
“They are more than just Gordon,” he said.
East Central is 0-1 after falling 53-37 to Jennings County. The Trojans play host tonight to South Dearborn.
Saturday’s game is a doubleheader with the RHS girls basketball team. The Red Devil girls meet Danville at 6 p.m., followed by the RHS-East Central boys.
The Trojans will be a more deliberate, ball-control team than the up-tempo Panthers.
“The big thing is facing two teams that are completely polar opposites, and to see if we are as diverse as I think we are,” Luce said.
Richmond defeated East Central 55-43 last year at St. Leon, one night after the Red Devils traveled to Indianapolis to face North Central.
“No matter what happens weather-wise, what players play, they are going to be well-coached,” Luce said of the Trojans. “It’s a good rivalry game. I think it will definitely be a good game.”