The East Central Trojans came to town on Saturday night, determined to keep their 3-game win streak against the Red Devils alive. Both teams had similar set ups leading into the game. They were both on the road for the season opener, both losing by 3 points. Richmond to Jay County, East Central to Jennings County. Both teams had commanding victories over their Friday opponents. Richmond, 30 points over Hagerstown, East Central, 21 points over Milan. Both teams were looking to come out victorious.
Richmond struck first with a Cleevas Craig slam dunk. Logan Rohrbacher answered with a 3 for the Trojans. Early in the 1st quarter, Tytan Newton set Drew Kroft up for the alley oop, which his older brother Lucas Kroft had used many times last season. East Central capitalized on a few Red Devil miscues that ended the 1st quarter with the Red Devils up, 11-10. That lead would not last.
The 2nd quarter was not kind to the Red Devils. They scored 5 points in the entire 2nd quarter. East Central on the other hand scored 19 points in the same time span. Most of those points coming off play from their big center, Luke Collinsworth, whose physically style of play would put him in trouble later. It seemed no matter what Richmond did, the rim was just not their friend in the 2nd quarter. Shots that would rattle in normally, bounced out. East Central’s zone coverage prevented Richmond from driving the paint. After Collinsworth scored East Central’s 29th point with 26 seconds left in the 1st half, Richmond drove down to their end of the court to set up play, and with one second left on the clock Levon Jordan launched a 3 that would be the catalyst for arguably one of the best comebacks we’ve seen in the Tiernan Center in a while. The Red Devils trailed at the half by 13, 29-16.
Coach Shabaz Khaliq must have given one of the best motivational speeches in the locker room during halftime, because the Red Devils came out fired up and ready to play. Cleevas Craig started the 3rd quarter comeback with a quick layup to start the period. The Red Devils started to play more aggressively, driving the lane, and stealing the ball, and East Central had trouble adjusting, their lead slowly eroding away. Richmond capitalized on their newfound momentum and ended the quarter tied at 39-39.
The 4th quarter would start with 4 guys in foul trouble; AJ Messmore, John Hotel, and Luke Collinsworth for East Central. Cleevas Craig for Richmond. With 6:08 in the game, Tytan Newton shot a 3 that would put Richmond back in the lead for the rest of the game. East Central would resort to the foul game to attempt to slow Richmond down, but in doing so John Hotel would foul out with 5:00 left in the game. The next causality of the foul game came on Richmond’s side as Cleevas Craig fouled out…but he received a standing ovation from the Richmond student section, and Jordan Stole congratulated him on a game well played. Aj Messmore and Luke Collinsworth both had 4 fouls at this time. The final foul out of the night was East Central’s big Center Luke Collinsworth. His foul-out all but sealed the deal for a Richmond victory. With 6.9 seconds left in the game, East Central would inbound the ball, attempt the 3, it would rattle out into the hands of Tytan Newton, who proceeded directly to the center circle and waited for the buzzer to sound, finalizing their impressive comeback and team effort. Down 13 at the half, they rallied and won by 14.