Coach Joe Luce sees Muncie Central’s 3-6 record and isn’t fooled.
Luce knows that’s not indicative of the Bearcat squad the Red Devils will visit this Friday. Tip-off is 8 p.m. for the North Central Conference clash.
Central was without Travis Woods for five games, and the Muncie senior is making up for lost time. He’s averaging 17 points through his four games, including netting 19 against Hamilton Southeastern in the Bearcats’ 70-44 loss this past Saturday.
“They’ve been through some adversity with Woods being out,” Luce said. “He’s back and they’re a pretty good ballclub, always well-coached.”
Jabriel Allen leads Central with 20.6 points per game, while Kaleb Mallory chips in 10.8.
Allen and Jay’lin Barnes are the team’s top rebounders.
Central has split its past four games, with wins over Delta and Fort Wayne Canterbury, and losses to Jay County and the Royals, currently ranked fifth in Class 4A.
“Muncie is a group that I know is very prideful and definitely not satisfied with where they’re at,” Luce said. “They have something to prove. It’s a better ballclub than their 3-6 record. I have great respect for Matt Fine and what they’ve accomplished.”
Central is 0-1 in the NCC with a 49-35 loss at Kokomo on Dec. 7.
Richmond also is 0-1 in conference play and 8-5 overall. The Red Devils aim to shake a two-game skid and are coming off a 51-37 loss last Saturday to Jay County.
Luce expects to see an energized Red Devil squad take the court at Muncie Fieldhouse.
“We’ve had a good week of practice. We just continue to mature and get better,” Luce said. “This is a team that, every time we get a chance to play, I’m excited to see what happens. I know the best basketball is still to be played.”
Charles Hampton leads Richmond with 13.6 points per game, followed by 10.5 for Joel Okafor, 9.6 for Davious Webster and 5.7 for Reggie Jones.
Luce is looking for an improvement on half-court offense from the Red Devils.
“Whether it’s against a zone, sagging man, switching man, we need to be able to attack multiple defenses,” Luce said. “We’ve only played at one speed, and that’s running and attacking at a fast-break mode. We have to continue to get better in the half court. Once we develop some confidence in our half-court offense, we’ll become a better team.”
Richmond will also be in action Saturday night at Tiernan Center, taking on Gary Roosevelt. The Panthers (1-8) are coming off a 91-69 loss on Jan. 4 at South Bend Riley.
RHS junior varsity coach Rick Wedlow is an alum of Gary Roosevelt, and he helped the Panthers win a state title in 1991.