FORT WAYNE, Ind.
Richmond finished with a flurry. It was just a little too late for the Red Devils.
Zionsville fended off Richmond’s rally Tuesday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne as the Eagles downed the Devils 49-45 as part of the Super Hoops New Year Classic.
Zionsville’s lead reached 15 late in the third quarter before the Red Devils rattled off a 10-0 run.
The Eagles continued to be effective enough to not let their advantage dip below four points, despite constant pressure from RHS that resulted in seven fourth-quarter turnovers, 21 overall.
“It’s easy to play when you’re down,” said RHS coach Joe Luce. “Unfortunately we did a poor job of getting things into a position where we got some easy shots to start out with. We took hard shots from the beginning, and the outcome is what you get.”
Zionsville never trailed, grabbing a 3-0 lead on a trey by Dalton Judd. Richmond was able to tie in the first half, but never surged ahead, and the Red Devils took a 19-15 deficit into halftime.
The Eagles added to that with an 8-1 run to start the second half, and the Devils also had to deal with the loss of point guard Joel Okafor, who was whistled for his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter.
“To Richmond’s credit, their best player goes out, and their kids were resilient enough to come back and make it scary,” said Zionsville coach Shaun Busick. “I thought they did a great job. Richmond never gave up. They played hard. They’re really well coached.”
Zionsville led by 11 with 4 minutes to play, before RHS scored six straight to make it 43-38 with 1:31 left.
Richmond’s Reggie Jones made it 47-43 with 40 seconds to play after a 3-pointer, but Michael Sollman twice connected on 1-of-2 free throws to keep it a two-possession game.
“Tonight, they were a better coached team, they were a better executing team and they were a smarter team, and they beat us for that reason,” Luce said of the Eagles. ” … I felt like we won the matchups in lots of areas … I thought they were more mentally prepared than us, and ultimately, just a little bit tougher.”
Richmond’s Charles Hampton led all scorers with 14 points, including a stretch of nine straight for the Red Devils in the second half.
Davious Webster added 11 points, Okafor scored nine and Jai Wright grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Sollman scored 12 to lead Zionsville (6-3) and 6-foot-10 sophomore Derrik Smits finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Smits is the son of former Indiana Pacer Rik Smits.
“I thought we did a good job at times of attacking the press and getting it to our big guys, which was our advantage,” Busick said. “There were other times down the stretch where we had too many turnovers and didn’t communicate defensively.”
The RHS-Zionsville game was the fourth of five played at the Coliseum on New Year’s Day.
“It’s great. The good thing for us is we could see a team in Richmond that we haven’t seen,” Busick said. “We also get more exposure for our kids. We have a lot of nice young players on our team and I think our kids … our teamwork, our hustle and our determination are real keys for us.”
Richmond (8-4) returns to action Saturday at home with Jay County (6-2). The Patriots also play host Friday night to Mississinewa.
“Our players have to be better about making some decisions,” Luce said. “They’re a group of guys who will continue to grow.”