When Richmond senior Zion Deloney stepped to the free throw line with 12.7 seconds remaining in a hard-fought semifinal game during the Bob Wettig tournament on Friday, Dec. 30, it was the first time all season that the Red Devils had been challenged late into a game. The Greensburg Pirates had battled back to force the ‘Devils to make plays on nearly every fourth quarter possession. 

The Red Devils were clinging to a 1-point lead and Deloney’s free throws were critical. With the weight of thousands of fans on his shoulders, Deloney hit both free throws to give Richmond a 48-45 lead. A desperate 3-point shot from Greensburg as time expired fell short and the Red Devils advanced to the championship game. Good teams find a way to win.

The Red Devils had easily defeated their early round opponents on Thursday, Dec. 29, to stay in the winners bracket.

In their tournament opener, the Red Devils beat the Indianapolis Homeschool Wildcats by 76-49. The Red Devils raced to a 46-19 halftime lead and were never threatened. Nine Red Devils scored. Cedric Horton led with 19 points, Braiden Hogg scored 12 points and Ryder Cate added 11 points.

Richmond’s Cedric Horton scores a breakaway dunk against Heritage Christian. Photo by Rachel Moore

In their second-round game, the Red Devils took another easy win. Eight different Red Devils scored as Richmond defeated East Central 51-28. Horton led with 18 points. Mason Carpenter scored 13 points.

The Greensburg Pirates defeated Indianapolis Scecina 54-52 in overtime in their opening-round game, and Bloomington South 59-50 in their second-round game, to set up their semifinal game with Richmond.

Most teams do not want to run with Richmond, and Greensburg was no exception. They tried to slow the pace of the game. The Pirates took their last lead of the game at 6-5 on a free throw from Jack McKinsey with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Red Devils responded with a 12-0 run extending into the second quarter, capped off by a 3-pointer from Mason Carpenter that propelled the ‘Devils to a 17-6 lead.

Mason Carpenter named MVP. Photo by Rachel Moore

It turned out to be a pivotal stretch in the game. The Pirates chipped away at their deficit for the remainder of the game, cutting the Richmond lead to 2 points on two occasions, and to a single point when McKinsey stole a Red Devil inbound pass and scored with 20 seconds remaining in the game to make the score 46-45. But they were never able to take the lead thanks to Deloney’s late-game heroics.   

Carpenter led the Red Devils with 20 points, included five 3-point baskets. Horton provided double-figure support with 12 points. McKinsey led the Pirates with a game-high 22 points. Drew Busick added 12 points.

The Red Devils went on to claim the championship, defeating Heritage Christian by the score of 61-34.

Red Devils move to 14-0 with conference victory. Photo by Rachel Moore

The Eagles, 11th ranked in the 3A state poll, were no match for Richmond, 12th ranked in the 4A state poll. Eight Red Devils scored in the rout. Hogg was the leading scorer for Richmond with 12 points. Horton and Julien Smith each scored 11 points. Heritage Christian did not have a double-figure scorer.

Richmond (12-0)             14   18    8    21   61

Deloney 4, Carpenter 9, Jayden Shipp 2, Cate 9, Hogg 12, Horton 11, Julien Smith 11, Gavin Haynes 3 – Total 61

Heritage Christian (6-3)  11     8    7      8   34

Lincoln Taueg 8, Spencer Deaton 0, Cole Louden 5, Josh Mcgee 3, Daniel Green 2, Luke Peters 8, Landon Schnippel 8 – Total 34

Horton and Carpenter were both named to the All-Tournament team; Carpenter was recognized as the tournament MVP.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 10 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Dan Harney is a sports reporter at the Western Wayne News.