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Devils open NCC play Friday with Huntington

December 13, 2012
Huntington North High School

Devils open NCC play Friday with Huntington

RHS was 2nd in conference past 2 seasons


Richmond's Joel Okafor moves the ball against Connersville's Dezmen Rent last Friday at Tiernan Center.



Josh Chapin Sports Editor

At a Glance

What: Huntington North at Richmond
When/where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tiernan Center
Records: Huntington is 3-2; RHS is 3-1. This is the NCC opener for both teams
Last year: RHS won 89-68 at Huntington
Next: RHS plays host Dec. 21 to Lafayette Jeff


Two years, two second-place finishes in the conference.

Richmond has been a runner-up in the North Central Conference back-to-back seasons. Friday night marks the Red Devils’ first step at a championship for 2012-13 when they play host to Huntington North.

“It’s a must-win,” said RHS coach Joe Luce. “If you’re going to win the conference, all seven of the conference games are must-win games. You have to go 7-0 in this league if you’re going to win it outright.”

RHS is a winner of its past two and is coming off a tight 52-51 victory over Connersville last week at Tiernan Center.

The Red Devils are 3-1 overall. Huntington North is 3-2. The Vikings had a three-game winning streak snapped last week with a 67-43 loss at Fort Wayne Carroll.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Luce said of the Vikings. “They’ve played some young kids who have matured. It’s definitely a team that will expect to win.”

Rob Irwin is in his first year leading Huntington. Noah Reed leads the Vikings with 16 points per game, while Trenton Kern averages 9.8 and Kyle Platt 7.

Platt and Kern are also Huntington’s top rebounders with 5.2 and 5 per game, respectively.

“We definitely understand what second place feels like,” Luce said. “We’ve been there two years in a row. We want to put ourselves in a position for the Kokomo game (NCC finale) to mean something.

“ ... (Huntington) will be a good contest for us.”

So was Connersville, which was in the lead late last Friday before the Red Devils rallied.

Joel Okafor capped the comeback with two free throws with 12.9 seconds to play, and the sophomore then muscled down a rebound on the other end of the floor to end the game.

Richmond also rallied the previous weekend to knock off East Central 55-43 in St. Leon.

“It’s stressful on a young team to be in those games, but at the same time it’s a great learning opportunity for us,” Luce said. “We walk out of those games, those last two games, knowing we’re going to do everything we can to find a way to win. We’ve been fortunate to have theball bounceour way.

“Our guys have definitely grown up over the course of the first four games, but we haven’t played for anything other than pride on that night. The Huntington North game changes all that. It’s for the conference championship. It’s a seven-game playoff. We have to find a way to win all seven, one at a time.”

Okafor leads RHS with 11 points per game, followed by 10.3 by Charles Hampton, 9.3 by Davious Webster and 9 by Reggie Jones.

“We continue to mature and get better with each and every minute we play as a team,” Luce said. “As we’re maturing and growing, you have some confidence in what you’re doing. We’re a good basketball team that can be a real threat each and every possession if we care of each other and make the extra pass.

“ ... (Just) play with confidence and realize this is the time of the year we’re going to have some ups and downs and just fight through the adversity at the end of the game to make sure we have achance to win.”

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