January 19, 2013

Berries shut down in NCC loss at Richmond

by Josh Chapin
For the Pharos-Tribune

RICHMOND — Richmond endured a 4-minute scoring slump in the second half.

That was nothing compared to what the Devil defense had in store for Logansport.

Logansport's drought was longer - and much more damaging to the Berries' chances of rising above .500 in the North Central Conference.

Five points in the second half and zero through the final 7 minutes, Richmond's defense was efficient in keeping the Berries off the board in the Red Devils' 50-18 victory Friday night at Tiernan Center.

RHS finished the game with a 21-0 run, and the Devils limited Logansport standout Antonio Penny to nine points, well below his average of 21.5.

"We really stepped it up in the second half and made sure we talked," said RHS junior Abdul Shabazz. "Communication is big for us. I think that's what allowed us to hold them to only five points in the second half."

Shabazz and Davious Webster led the Red Devils with 13 points each, while Charles Hampton netted six and Jai Wright and Joel Okafor each scored five.

It was the lack of scoring, though, that broke the game open.

Logansport made no field goals in the third quarter and just one in the second half. Unofficially, the Berries shot 6-of-40 from the field for 15 percent.

"I feel like tonight we did some really good things," said RHS coach Joe Luce. "Lots of respect for Antonio Penny and lots of respect for their team. Obviously we played really well on the defensive end and I think we're beginning to find an identity, and that identity is some toughness in the halfcourt.

" ... If you told us Penny himself was going to score 18 points, we would have been very excited to enter the game knowing that. At the end of the day they didn't play very well, but they're a varsity basketball team in the state of Indiana. In my opinion we had something to do with them not playing very well."

Logansport coach Mark Victor had to leave the bench after receiving a second technical with 6:13 left in the fourth quarter. Penny left briefly in the third quarter and returned with tape above his right eye.

Shabazz and Webster each scored six of their points in the final stanza. Shabazz also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, with six each going to Webster and Reggie Jones.

Richmond (11-5) has now won three straight after back-to-back victories last weekend over Muncie Central and Gary Roosevelt.

"It shows that we're moving and taking steps forward, playing harder and coming out with defense," said Webster, who celebrated his 16th birthday Friday night with a win.

" ... It's nice to see all my teammates happy. I want to see my seniors be happy, too, that we're taking more steps to winning the conference. I'm just going to keep playing hard, grinding it and helping all my teammates out."

Nate Bullard grabbed a game-high eight rebounds for the Berries (8-6, 1-2).

Richmond has shown signs of strong second-half defense throughout the year. The Red Devils held Upper Arlington (Ohio) scoreless in the fourth quarter on Dec. 22 at Tiernan, and nearly did the same to East Central in a win at St. Leon on Dec. 1.

Richmond is 2-1 in NCC play.

"It's the next step," Shabazz said. "Now we're on to the next one."

That next one is Jan. 25 Marion.

The Giants are 7-9 overall and 0-3 in the conference after Friday's 65-61 loss to Anderson. Luce previously coached at Marion before joining Richmond in 2009.

"Marion was great to me for five years and I look forward to going up there and seeing a lot of great friends and competing a team ... that is very talented," Luce said. "We need to prepare this week, hopefully stay focused and get one on the road."