Richmond’s defense took over in the third quarter.
Davious Webster took care of the fourth.
The Red Devils forced three straight turnovers to start the second half, Webster netted nine of his game-high 15 points in the final frame and Richmond racked up win No. 18 with Saturday’s 47-34 victory at Mt. Vernon (Fortville).
The Devils led 23-19 at the break, an advantage they extended to double digits by holding the Marauders to four points in the third quarter.
“Our defense turned us around,” Webster said.
“I just feel like that’s a big turnaround in the game. If we’re bringing our defense, it just transitions over to our offense and that gets us going.”
Webster jump-started the offense over the final 8 minutes.
Mt. Vernon pulled within 34-26, but Webster responded with a 3-pointer.
That was the first of nine straight RHS points by the junior guard. When Webster finished his scoring with 3:47 to play, Richmond led 43-29.
The Red Devils controlled the ball the rest of the way, rising to 18-2 and making it back-to-back victories for the weekend. Richmond also claimed its first outright North Central Conference title since 1988 by defeating Kokomo 81-73 on Friday night at Tiernan Center.
“I just wanted to bring the energy,” Webster said. “Coming on that bus ride, our legs were a little tired. I knew what our team was going through. I just kept talking to them, kept telling them to keep the energy going, keep pushing it.”
Isaiah Rader and Kendal Baker each scored six points for the Class 4A No. 8 Red Devils, while Abdul Shabazz and Joel Okafor both netted five.
Devin Thomas had four rebounds and three points, while Shabazz and Webster also both grabbed four rebounds.
“We got through it,” said RHS coach Joe Luce. “It was definitely an emotional night last night (against Kokomo), an evening that our kids took a lot of pride in.
“We came in today and had to put a quick game plan together. … We had some real good defensive pressure, and then we finally made some shots. Once we made some shots, it was a little bit easier for us offensively and some guys stepped up.”
RHS and Mt. Vernon were tied 12-12 after one quarter. The Red Devils used a 10-2 run in the second to surge ahead, then forced the Marauders into seven turnovers in the third quarter.
Mt. Vernon, a semistate team in Class 3A last year, made one field goal in the third, and four overall in the second half.
“We just picked it up, because we knew we had to,” Rader said of the Devils’ defense. “We knew defensive pressure would turn the game around for us.”
Sophomore Michael Thompson had 12 points and nine rebounds to lead Mt. Vernon (8-12) before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just nice to know that we keep winning and staying on track,” Rader said.
” … The second half we just tuned all the way in, and just did what we had to do.”
Richmond returns to action Friday at home against Indianapolis Manual (7-10) for the regular-season finale.
The Red Devils also learn their sectional path today. Pairings for the tournament will be announced starting at 3:30 p.m.
Richmond and Mt. Vernon are both in the Class 4A Sectional 9 New Castle field, along with the host Trojans, Pendleton Heights, Anderson, Connersville and Greenfield-Central.
“We’ve tried it all ways,” Luce said. “We’ve tried it with the bye, without. We’ve tried it with getting off to a good start, winning a couple of games and getting in the championship, and getting beat in the first game. You name it. We just want to see our name on the TV screen and have a chance to start preparing for whatever our first-round opponent is going to be.”