Abdul Shabazz shook his head in near disbelief.
The Richmond senior was fouled on his way up for a third-quarter shot that surely looked like it was going in.
Instead, the ball rimmed out. It was about the only shot Shabazz missed in Thursday’s second half.
Shabazz scored 19 of his game-high 21 points over the final two quarters and Richmond rebounded for a 64-52 win over Warren Central at Tiernan Center.
“I was just a little frustrated, because nothing was dropping,” said Shabazz, who scored 13 in the fourth quarter. “I just had to keep my head in it, keep my confidence and just go over textbook form.”
Shabazz was 5-of-6 from the field in the fourth quarter, and the Red Devils were near perfect from the free-throw line then, too.
Shabazz, Davious Webster and Isaiah Rader combined for 12-of-13 free throws in the fourth as Richmond bounced back from last Saturday’s loss to North Central.
Webster scored all eight of his points in the final frame, and was 6-of-7 from the free-throw line down the stretch.
“It was very important, especially in times like that,” Webster said of converting free throws. “We just have to keep knocking them down and just maintain the focus.”
Warren Central led 21-17 at halftime, and took a 38-36 advantage into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors stretched that lead to 41-36 before Shabazz swished a 3-pointer with 7:31 to play.
Shabazz tied the game 43-all with a basket with 5:54 remaining, and Mike Tillman nailed a trey — his sixth of the game — at 5:11 for a 46-45 Richmond lead.
The Red Devils never trailed the rest of the way, and pushed their advantage to double digits with a 12-0 run.
“We played a good team tonight, and I felt like we had defensively done a pretty good job in the first half,” said RHS coach Joe Luce. “Offensively we were just a little stagnant and didn’t get the transition baskets that we needed to make to get us going.
“In the second half, we started out the half with a very good basket by Mike Tillman that kind of got us moving a little bit. We finally got the lead and were able to then put together a couple of defensive stops. A very good end to the third and fourth quarter.”
Tillman finished with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. The senior confidently drilled an extremely long 3 — he was close to midcourt — with 1:05 left in the third that brought RHS within one.
Shabazz followed that in the fourth with a roll where he scored 13 of Richmond’s next 16 points.
“He’s Willie Stargell. He’s our captain,” Luce said of Shabazz. “That’s what he is. He is just absolutely the glue of our team, and could probably do more of that from a scoring standpoint, but takes a backseat lots of times, just does what the team needs. A quality, quality player. Tonight, we got on his back and he really carried us.”
Rader and Zach Lett finished with six points each for the Red Devils, who rose to 15-2.
Lett had a team-high nine rebounds, with Shabazz grabbing six and Rader and Joel Okafor three each.
Jaraan Lands paced Warren Central with 16 points, 10 of them coming in free throws. The Warriors dropped to 10-8.
“It was a very big deal we get a win right now, especially coming off a loss,” Shabazz said. “This is good mentally to get us back stable.”
Richmond returns to action Saturday at Tiernan Center against Indianapolis Attucks. Varsity tip-off is 3:30 p.m.
The Red Devils are ranked 10th in Class 4A and 11th in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll.
“We were just thinking win,” Webster said of the fourth-quarter mindset. “We just came out and (Shabazz) stepped up a lot. When he came out, Zach was there to rebound for us. We just came together and got two big steals at the end. That was big, and just getting back to that free-throw line and knocking down clutch buckets.”