Richmond did not surprise Chad Cook.
The Anderson coach was expecting a battle from the Red Devils — never mind the 51-point victory for his squad in December — and RHS delivered.
But, so did Cook’s Indians when it counted.
Anderson is still alive and in the hunt for the Class 4A sectional crown after Wednesday’s 64-51 win over the Red Devils at Connersville’s Spartan Bowl.
Richmond made the sure rematch was closer — much closer. The Red Devils led in the second quarter and trailed by five with 2:49 remaining in Wednesday’s game.
Anderson (17-4) continued its knack of closing out quarters, outscoring the Red Devils 10-2 in the final 2:33.
“I expected that,” said Cook, whose team moved on to meet Pendleton Heights in a Friday semifinal. “After the last game, I just knew. We played perfect, and I knew it’d be different come two months later.
“Give Richmond a lot of credit for what they did. They did a lot of good things.”
The best things for the Indians happened at the end of each half.
Anderson turned a two-point lead into an 11-point halftime advantage when the Indians went on a 9-0 roll in the final 1:38 of the second quarter.
Anderson’s similar surge to end the fourth quarter put the game away.
“We battled them down to the wire, and in the end, depth was the difference,” said RHS coach Casey Pohlenz. “They run eight, nine, 10 kids in. We were really limited with our bench tonight. Sarah (Richards) has been sick. … Their depth wore us down.
“It was a tremendous effort by our kids.”
RHS freshman Destiny Perkins led all scorers with 22 points, while Mackenzie Taylor netted 13 and Tahsiah Ferguson added 12 on four 3-pointers.
Anderson had four in double figures, paced by Da’Sha Boyd’s double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Perkins sparked Richmond early. She scored all 10 of the Red Devils’ first-quarter points as they trailed 11-10.
She continued to attack the basket in the second quarter. So did Taylor as the RHS duo broke through Anderson’s relentless defensive pressure.
“There were a couple of times we were almost too unselfish out of it, and maybe we should have kept the ball,” Pohlenz said. “But that says something about our team. A big game, with pressure on, we’re still being unselfish. That’s a credit to the character of those kids.”
Perkins scored to open the second quarter, and Ferguson swished a 3-pointer at 5:58 to give RHS a 15-11 advantage.
Anderson turned to Dabriona Williams. The junior canned back-to-back 3-pointers, and the Indians reclaimed a lead they took into halftime.
Anderson was up 32-21 at the break.
“That’s good that you can do that, but you don’t want to be able to turn it off and on like that,” Cook said. “We’ll have to do better of leaving that switch on. We just weren’t able to keep that foot on the pedal all game like we typically have been.”
Anderson won 84-33 on Dec. 14 in Anderson in the North Central Conference meeting of the two teams.
Perkins grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds on Wednesday, while Bailey Hillard finished with seven, Taylor five and Paetyn Claiborne four.
Anderson had many second-chance looks, and the Indian lead stood at 54-39 after a Boyd trey with 6 minutes left.
It was Richmond’s turn to run. The Red Devils forced turnovers and converted to the tune of a 10 straight points to make it 54-49.
“The credit goes to our kids,” Pohlenz said. “They believed in each other. They came together. They rallied. The leadership that our guards showed and our seniors showed, they really kept us in the game and gave us a chance.
“Unfortunately I think we just ran out of gas at the end.”
Richmond finished 11-11. It’s the fourth straight year the Red Devils have finished .500 or better under Pohlenz.
Pendleton Heights stopped New Castle 58-49 in Wednesday’s first game. That set up Friday’s semifinal with the Arabians meeting Anderson.
Mt. Vernon (Fortville), a state champion in Class 3A a year ago, takes on Connersville at 6 p.m. in the first semifinal. The Spartans defeated Anderson to win last year’s championship.
“We’ll have to sharpen up a little bit,” Cook said. “It’s a long way here to Connersville.
“Give Richmond a lot of credit. They played their hearts out, and they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.”