By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — Logansport’s boys basketball had the type of response from the Marion blowout that coach Pat Skaggs was looking for.
It just wasn’t enough against another North Central Conference heavyweight, Richmond, on Saturday afternoon. The older and more experienced Red Devils opened the second half with a big run and pulled away late in an 86-81 win at the Berry Bowl.
It was a well-played game by both teams. Richmond improved to 11-1 and 3-0 in the NCC. Logan dropped to 8-3 and 0-3.
Richmond made the long trek to Logan on Friday night and stayed in a hotel to make the game possible as every other area event this weekend was postponed.
“I was really glad that we got the game in. I think we needed a game,” Skaggs said.
The Berries, who had lost at Marion by 34 eight days earlier, came out and played one of their best halves of the season and led Richmond 38-36 at the break.
The Berries had a little blip at the start of the second half. They committed three of their 16 turnovers early in the half, and the Red Devils made them pay, as they opened with a quick 11-0 run to take a 47-38 lead just 1:30 into the half.
Mike Tillman, who led the Red Devils with a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds, hit two of his seven 3-pointers during the burst.
“I thought we had that game. We just couldn’t handle their press right out of the second half,” Logan senior Andrew Wamsley said. “But other than that we played a great game coming off a week break. I thought out of our three losses, that was easily the best one. We never gave up.”
The Berries came back to tie the game at 58-all late in the third quarter on a pair of Matt Jennings free throws. Richmond took a 59-58 lead after three when Joel Okafor hit 1 of 2 free throws with 4.8 seconds left in the frame. Jalen Adaway was called for his fourth foul on the play that the Logansport fans made sure to let the refs know they did not agree with.
The Berries were within one to four points for most of the fourth quarter. They got to within 69-68 on a Jennings drive with 4:20 remaining.
Jennings then had a 3 go about halfway down before rattling out. Carter Skaggs later missed a pair of free throws. But Wamsley’s basket with 2:05 left made it a 73-70 game.
Okafor then came up with a blocked shot in transition and hit 1 of 2 free throws with 1:49 left to push the lead back to four.
The lead got to as big as eight before an A.J. Smith 3 and two free throws by Jennings got the lead back down to 80-75 with 30.9 seconds left.
But the Red Devils were solid at the line down the stretch, in particular Davious Webster, who scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth. He was 9 of 9 from the line in the quarter and had a big three-point play with 1:24 left that made it a 77-70 game.
Richmond outrebounded Logan 31-30, committed seven less turnovers (9) and made 9 of 24 3-pointers. Tillman was 7 of 13 from beyond the arc.
“Their press got to us, that’s about it. Everything else we did right,” Wamsley said. “And then they were hitting 3s. They were knocking down 3s. That wasn’t in the scouting report that they could hit that many 3s.”
The Berries had five players in double figures. Wamsley led the way with 20 points, followed by Carter Skaggs with 17, Jennings with 16, Smith with 15 and Adaway with 10. Jennings, a 5-9 freshman, had a team-high six boards.
Carter Skaggs went over the 1,000-point milestone in the game. The 6-5 junior, who played his first two seasons at Pioneer, now has 1,014 points for his career.
“I know the attention goes to Skaggs a lot,” Richmond coach Joe Luce said. “He does make some plays. He’s an outstanding player. He’s a Junior All-Star in my opinion without a doubt. At the end of the day though, every one of the guys on that team came and fought and it was a very, very good team.
“We walk out of here and have a lot of respect for the basketball team we just played. I thought that they showed great signs of team chemistry. I thought the way they attacked and played and went to the offensive glass was just as good as we’ve faced all year.”
The Berries are still looking for their first NCC win of the season. They just about had one against the No. 11-ranked Red Devils, one of the favorites going in. Richmond has a showdown with No. 16-ranked Marion next Friday at home.
“Let’s give credit to where credit’s due. Richmond’s a good team,” Pat Skaggs said. “They’re 11-1 and rated No. 11 in the state, so I thought our guys came out swinging today and didn’t back down.
“The first two minutes of the third quarter just really killed us. In my opinion that was probably the turning point in the game. To our guys’ credit, they didn’t back down or quit. They stayed right with it and got right back into the game, cut it down to one. We still probably made a few turnovers too many.”
The Berries were hungry to get back on the court following the disappointment at Marion.
“Looking back in it now, it looks like we maybe learned something from the Marion game,” Pat Skaggs said. “I thought we came out focused and ready. I thought we did a pretty good job of sharing the ball. I think we were just mentally ready and I’m really proud of our guys. Obviously we’re not into moral victories or anything.
“But for the most part I thought we did a good job and just played with a little more passion and focus. We just played a little bit smarter and I think for us to play with these elite teams, Marion and Richmond, I think we have to really play smart.”
Logan travels to Lewis Cass on Wednesday for a makeup game. The Berries overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Kings 77-68 back on Dec. 3 in county tournament play.