Richmond’s return to the regional started the Red Devils’ way.
But, Trey Lyles and company were every bit as good as advertised. Indianapolis Tech’s dominant third quarter firmly put the Titans in control — and helped put an end to Richmond’s first regional appearance in 18 years.
Lyles finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds — and the 6-foot-10 Kentucky-bound Mr. Basketball candidate popped one of the two 3-pointers he attempted — as a talented Tech supporting cast fired on all cylinders on the way to an 80-55 victory over the Red Devils in a Class 4A Southport regional semifinal.
Pike defeated Brownsburg 57-42 in the other semifinal. Tech claimed the regional championship, its first since 1978, by winning the final 60-52.
Richmond finished 22-3, won an outright North Central Conference championship and the program’s first sectional title since 1996.
“It was a great year we had. We accomplished a lot,” said RHS senior Abdul Shabazz. “It just hurts to see it end so soon.”
Richmond looked ready to extend its season in front of a strong Southport crowd.
The Red Devils were aggressive from the opening tip-off, scoring the game’s first six points, and building leads of 8-2 and 11-4.
“We had a good start to the game,” said Shabazz, who scored all seven of his points in the first quarter. “After a while we just lost our flow. We weren’t really playing our style of basketball anymore.”
The light switched for the Titans at the midpoint of that opening quarter — and Richmond hit foul trouble.
Lyles scored his first basket with 4:34 to play, starting a 12-0 run for the Titans.
Tech made four free throws in the final 2:21, taking a 22-17 advantage into the second quarter.
By the end of the first quarter, three Red Devil starters had been whistled for two fouls.
“We got off to a good start and did some things that were necessary to keep us in the game,” said RHS coach Joe Luce. “We attacked and went to the rim. We got some guys loose for some jump shots, and defensively we rebounded the ball.
“When I think things changed, and obviously some fouls mounted up against us, we did not respond as well. Can’t say enough about the team we played. They’re very good.”
Richmond’s Joel Okafor drilled a 3-pointer to start the second quarter, and the Red Devils regained the lead, 26-25, on a Devin Thomas inside basket with 4:55 to play.
Time for another Tech run. This time, the Titans surged with a 12-1 roll, leading 37-27 with 2:30 left in the first half.
“We got that momentum, but we just didn’t carry it through,” said RHS senior Kendal Baker, who swished a pair of 3-pointers for six points.
Tech led by 11 at the half, an advantage that swelled to nearly 30 after a 24-6 third quarter.
Jeremie Tyler, a Ball State recruit along with Titan teammate Rashaun Richardson, scored a game-high 23 points. Michael Jones finished with eight points and nine rebounds for Tech.
“That Tyler kid is as good as anybody we’ve faced, as anybody I’ve faced in a long time,” Luce said. “And Lyles is in a different league of his own.”
Okafor scored a team-high 13 points, and the RHS junior played most of the second half with four fouls.
Okafor scored eight points over the final two quarters before fouling out late in the fourth.
“It was tough,” Okafor said of being called for his fourth foul about 20 seconds into the third quarter. “I had to just keep my head up and keep playing.”
Davious Webster scored nine points for RHS and dished five assists, with Zach Lett adding five points and three rebounds and Mike Tillman finishing with five points.
Isaiah Rader had a team-high six rebounds for the Devils.
“Everybody played their hearts out. It’s all we could ask for, really,” Baker said.
Semistate tournaments are this coming Saturday. The Southport champion will play at either Richmond or Seymour, with the location determined today.
Richmond graduates Baker, Shabazz, Tillman, Lett, Devin Thomas and Nick Thomas.
“It was great to make history,” Baker said.
Added Luce: “We’ve been continuing to improve and have success in our program. … We’ve been in positions to win championships and haven’t necessarily gotten over the top. This year was different. The North Central Conference championship is very special, something that our kids took great pride in, and then we were able to get through the sectional tournament for the first time in a while. That is a lot of stress that was relieved getting through that.
“I told them we opened doors I think for a lot players in the future to not have that hurdle in front of them.”