Devils to showcase skills

Hard work continues to pay off for the Red Devils.

Four Richmond High School basketball players will showcase their skills among the state’s best this coming week in Indianapolis.

Standout guards Mackenzie Taylor and Destiny Perkins will represent the Red Devils this Wednesday as part of the 12th annual IBCA/IHSAA Top 100 girls basketball showcase at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis.

Two more Devils — incoming senior guards Joel Okafor and Davious Webster — will be at Thursday’s boys top 100 Showcase.

RHS girls coach Casey Pohlenz is a firm believer that good things happen to those who work hard.

“It’s really big, not only for those kids, but for Richmond High School and the community,” Pohlenz said. “This is a basketball town.”

It’s also another basketball opportunity for the RHS stars to showcase their skills on the state level.

A total of 88 colleges attended the 2013 showcase events, according to the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.

The events begin at 2 p.m. each day and will last until around 8. There will be several stations and games for both showcases.

“It was definitely a big honor,” Taylor said. ” … It’s nice to be noticed as the top 100 in the state.”

Taylor, the 2013-14 Palladium-Item Player of the Year, averaged 17.8 points per game to go with 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals. The Wright State verbal commit also passed 1,000 points for her career during her junior season, and she did it despite playing limited minutes for half the season because of a torn ACL.

Taylor said she is back 100 percent from the injury.

“My expectations are probably higher for this season,” Taylor said.

“This year I definitely want to go farther in sectionals than we have before. We definitely have the talent to.”

That includes Perkins, who capped a stellar freshman campaign by scoring 16 points a game. She also averaged 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 3.2 assists.

Pohlenz praised Taylor and Perkins for their offseason efforts.

“Destiny has had a tremendous summer. She really has,” Pohlenz said. “She’s really gotten into the gym and worked hard, worked on her shot, worked on her game. Mackenzie has done the same thing. They’ve both worked hard all summer.

“It’s a good honor for both of them. I’m glad for them to get this chance. They are going to go out there and represent the school very well. I’m looking forward to going over there and watching them play.”

Former Purdue University player and current Boilermaker assistant coach Kelly Komara, Miss Basketball of 1998 from Lake Central, is the guest speaker for the girls showcase. Tom Coverdale, a Noblesville standout who won Mr. Basketball in 1998 and went on to play at Indiana University, will speak at the boys showcase.

Okafor and Webster helped Richmond win North Central Conference and Class 4A sectional championships. The conference championship was the Red Devils’ first in more than a decade, and the sectional crown ended a drought of nearly 20 years.

Okafor, an all-NCC and High Honorable Mention all-state pick, averaged 8.5 points per game for the Red Devils his junior season, and also dished a team-high 6 assists a contest. He led Richmond with 2.1 steals per game.

Okafor was also a member of Indiana Junior All-Stars and was one of 12 from the state selected to represent Indiana as part of the second NHSBCA Rising Senior Academy earlier this month.

“It’s been well-documented he’s had a great summer,” RHS coach Joe Luce said of Okafor. “He’s played in everything he needs to participate in to have himself (an opportunity) to be an Indiana All-Star a year from now, and continuing along leading our team to a very high level of play. We’re going to have a great team next year.”

Webster is a big part of that equation, too, and was instrumental in helping the Red Devils finish 22-3 and win championships last season.

Webster, selected by the Palladium-Item as the sectional MVP for the New Castle tournament, averaged 9.4 points, 4.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game throughout the 2013-14 season.

“I think a little bit of a secret that has kind of gotten out of the bag a little bit more as far as nationally and college coaches is Davious Webster,” Luce said. “We see him every day. We know the kind of player Davious is.

“They (Okafor and Webster) have sacrificed individual statistics for the betterment of the team. Both of those guys could have averaged double figures. Davious Webster could be a 20-point scorer without a doubt. But we probably would put ourselves in a position where we didn’t have quite as balanced or diverse team as what we’ve shown the last couple of years. … This showcase really is a big day for him.”

Kathie Layden of Northwestern will direct the girls showcase, with Guerin Catholic’s Pete Smith the director of the boys event.

“It’s a big day for those kids,” Luce said. “It’s a huge day for Richmond High School and the boys and girls basketball programs. Casey has done a fantastic job of preparing kids over the course of his career, and has a chance to have a couple more college players in these two.”

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