Saturday night was Mike Tillman’s turn.
When the Red Devils needed a big shot, they more often than not turned to the 6-foot-3 sharpshooter.
And Tillman delivered. The senior poured in a game-high 21 points — and swished five 3-pointers — as Richmond opened its boys basketball season with a 67-55 win over Dayton Thurgood Marshall at Tiernan Center.
“Coach talks all the time during practice, ‘Who’s going to step up, make the big shot when the other team’s going on a run?’ We just found a couple of sources tonight,” Tillman said. “Different ones who were going to hit the big shots tonight.”
Tillman knocked down his first trey a little more than a minute into the contest.
That started a 7-0 run for the Red Devils. They led 16-8 after one quarter, and 32-27 at halftime. Marshall’s first field goal came with 1:49 remaining in the opening period.
“We played very fast, and got up and down the floor,” said RHS coach Joe Luce. “I thought we played under control, though, and handled the basketball.
“I liked the number of kids who added to the game. I thought that was huge.”
Richmond’s offense was balanced.
Auntonio Brown and Devin Thomas each scored eight points, while Davious Webster and Nick Thomas finished with six each.
Isaiah Rader scored five, Joel Okafor and Abdul Shabazz four, Kendal Baker three and Zach Lett two.
Lett, Richmond’s 6-9 post, left the game early in the third quarter with a twisted ankle. Luce said after the game he expects Lett to be available for next Friday’s home game against North Central.
Lett also had five rebounds, with Okafor grabbing 10, Tillman six and Devin Thomas six.
“We rebounded well and we moved the ball well,” Devin Thomas said. “(Defense) was pretty tough. … We fought through it.”
Tillman started the second half the same way as the first — by sinking a 3.
Shabazz quickly followed with a basket as RHS stretched its lead to double figures.
Marshall pulled within seven twice, but that was it for the Cougars, who spent time last year ranked No. 1 in Ohio’s Division II.
“It’s a really quick measuring stick of what your offseason was like, and a really quick measuring stick of what you potentially have to expect,” Luce said. “With that said, it’s also one game. It’s being able to hopefully handle a quality win against a very quality opponent that is well coached. Looking forward to not looking back and over-celebrating or analyzing that win, because it’s behind us and now we have to move forward. But very proud of our kids.”
Darnell Hoskins led Marshall with 18 points, and Dwayne Chastain added 11.
RHS traveled to Marshall last season for a Saturday afternoon game that saw the Cougars pull away for a 63-49 victory. Marshall led by as many as 17 that game, a lead the Red Devils whittled down to four in the second half.
Richmond protected its second-half lead in this year’s edition. Brown scored six of his points in the second half, and Nick Thomas, Okafor and Tillman all delivered free throws down the stretch.
“That was a very good team we played,” Tillman said. “It was a tough win, great win for us to start off the season.”
Richmond is back at Tiernan Center twice next week, first against North Central on Friday, then again on Saturday to play host to East Central.
“We just need to continue to improve and find out more about ourselves each and every day,” Luce said. “I thought our guys did a great job of playing together as a team, playing very tough against a physical basketball team, but also having finesse, making shots, free throws and handling the ball under pressure.”