Richmond’s Christmas break is going to be a little bit more merry.
The Red Devils saw to that, posting a 59-47 border-crossing victory over Ohio foe Eaton on Monday.
Once again, exceptional guard play helped the Devils to victory. Mackenzie Taylor poured in a game-high 31 points, with Destiny Perkins netting 18.
One game earlier, Taylor and Perkins combined for 54 points in a 71-48 road win at Huntington North.
“We knew this was going to be a great game,” Taylor said. “They (the Eagles) are 8-1. They’re a great team. They’re young. They got us last year at home. We just wanted to come out and make sure we had a good Christmas break.”
The Red Devils had to overcome the Eagles’ size advantage to do so.
Perkins gave RHS a boost, scoring the first six points of the second quarter. That started a 10-0 run for the Red Devils, who maintained a lead throughout the rest of the game.
“We really responded well,” said RHS coach Casey Pohlenz. “Bailey Hillard was huge down the stretch.
“They (the Eagles) are such a good team. You look at both teams, and we’re both growing. I think my team has grown up a lot the last couple of games.”
Hillard hit 6-of-6 free throws in the fourth quarter, with Taylor connecting on 8-of-10 in that final frame.
Taylor was 15-of-17 overall from the free-throw line.
“It gets tiring, but if they are going to foul me, I’m going to make them pay,” Taylor said.
“We’re really coming together as a team, playing as a team and working together as a team. That’s big for us.”
Richmond extended its lead to 35-23 midway through the third quarter before the Eagles had a surge.
Autumn Whirley and Michelle McKinney swished back-to-back 3-pointers, and Julia Titus connected inside to pull Eaton within 35-31.
But Taylor ended the quarter with a three-point play after making a basket and getting fouled with 5 seconds left. Richmond’s lead didn’t dip below five the rest of the way.
“They were a better team,” Eaton coach Gary Peffly said of the Red Devils. “They shot the ball better than us.
“The two guards had great games. We couldn’t contain them. … Those two players are great players.”
Added Pohlenz: “We felt like we got the tempo in our favor early, and that helped. We wanted to get more into a transition tempo. We thought that would help us a little bit more, and we were able to do that early.”
Whirley led the Eagles with 16 points, followed by 13 from Titus and seven by Danielle Karns.
Elizabeth Tolliver led Eaton’s rebounders with eight. Karns had seven and Whirley six for the Eagles (8-2), who play Jan. 2 at National Trail in a makeup game.
“It’s a non-conference game. We want to win them all, but this still doesn’t hurt us in league play,” Peffly said.
“For us to be successful the rest of the way, we just have to keep plugging away.”
Hillard scored eight points for Richmond (6-3) to go with six rebounds. Perkins had a team-high eight rebounds, with Paetyn Claiborne finishing with five and Taylor and Hannah Goddard grabbing four each.
Richmond returns to action Dec. 27-28 in the Columbus North Tournament.
“This was a good challenge, especially coming off a tough Huntington North (game),” Pohlenz said.
“They (the Eagles) exposed some things that we have to correct defensively, and they rebounded really well, but I’m really, really proud of our kids and really happy.”
Sports editor Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463, email@example.com or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI