Back to the road for the Red Devils.
Friday’s destination carries a little extra weight for the Richmond boys basketball team, though. The Red Devils are headed to Huntington, and to their first North Central Conference game of the 2013-14 season.
“It’s a huge game for us,” RHS coach Joe Luce said of Friday’s contest at Huntington North, the second game in a girls-boys doubleheader with the Vikings.
“We’re anxious to get started. It’s going to be a great conference race. Hopefully we’ll find a way to play at the top of the league again. We definitely have something to prove, a chip on our shoulder.”
Huntington halted Richmond 72-60 last season at Tiernan Center.
The Red Devils went on to finish second in the conference for the third straight year.
The Vikings are off to a 4-1 start, and are coming off a 58-57 overtime win at New Haven on Dec. 11.
Kyle Platt and Caleb Landrum lead Huntington in scoring with 13.8 and 13 points, respectively. Keaton Irwin also averages double figures with 10 per game.
The Vikings have been effective in 3-pointers, shooting 50 percent (41-of-82).
“They can play different styles of basketball,” Luce said. “They can play full-court. They can play half-court. They can shoot the basketball well — a good basketball team. They have enough of a mix of veterans and youth to make them dangerous. It will be a good test for us on the road.”
Richmond passed its first two road tests.
The Red Devils won their annual rivalry game against Connersville 51-37 at the Spartan Bowl on Friday, then traveled the next day to Kentucky for a 62-58 victory over Taylor County (Ky.) as part of the Louisville High School HoopFest.
The 4-0 Red Devils are ranked 15th in the latest Class 4A Associated Press poll, and 20th in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll.
“We’ve had some very good games to start the season,” Luce said. “Saturday was a good win for our team on the road in a different environment after playing in an emotional game the night before. We didn’t quite finish like we had hoped to, but going back … I think it was a very successful weekend.”
Richmond will turn around Saturday night for another road game, this one at Upper Arlington (Ohio). The Columbus-area school has an away game Friday night at Hilliard Davidson.
This is the third straight season the Red Devils have met the Golden Bears, but the first time away from Tiernan Center. RHS defeated Upper Arlington 43-28 last year and 65-60 in 2011.
“It’s overall a great game,” Luce said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to win both times we’ve played them. They challenge us in different ways.”
Mike Tillman averages 15 points per game for RHS, and Joel Okafor scores 9.8.
“We just have to play our hardest,” senior Kendal Baker said of the upcoming trip to Huntington. “We know they’re a good rival, a conference game.”
Only one NCC game has been played so far this season. Muncie Central is 1-0 after edging Kokomo 54-53 in overtime this past Friday.
The Wildkats won last year’s conference title at 7-0.
“We’d like to get off to a 1-0 start in the North Central Conference,” Luce said. “That’s what it’s all about when you get into meaningful games that carry weight throughout the season. This is the first game that matters at a different level.”