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High School Sports

March 12, 2014

CLASS 2A REGIONAL PREVIEW: Former teammates Jones, Richey will face off Saturday

Clarksville, Austin seniors used to play for Henryville

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — After his Austin Eagles won the Class 2A Southwestern Sectional championship over Milan Saturday night, senior guard Devin Richey boarded the team bus headed back to Austin and sent a text to his best friend.

“I got on the bus and texted him, and said ‘See you next Saturday man,’” said Richey, who was talking about his friend, Clarksville guard Andrew Jones.

Jones and Richey, who began their high school careers as freshmen backcourt players at Henryville, will face off against one another on the Southridge gymnasium floor Saturday afternoon as Clarksville (21-2) plays Austin (13-10) in the second Southridge Regional semifinal.

Linton-Stockton, who defeated Clarksville in the regional semifinal last year en route to a state-championship runner-up finish, plays Perry Central in the early game.

Jones said he was happy to receive Richey’s text on Saturday night, even as he was celebrating his own sectional victory after the Generals defeated Providence in the Paoli sectional final.

“Yeah, I was excited for him,” Jones said. “You’re talking about someone who is one of my closest friends in the world. I knew what winning a sectional felt like and I wanted that for him.”

Former Henryville coach Perry Hunter said both Richey, who averages 15 points a game to pace the Eagles, and Jones, who averages just north of 20 points a game for the No. 2 Generals, showed star quality as freshmen and sophomores.

“I knew Devin from the earliest camps he came to, and Andrew transferred in for seventh grade,” Hunter recalled. “I’m not suprised at all [by their success]. They were two of the toughest, hardest working kids we had not just in high school but even as younger kids.”

In another irony, Hunter won’t have the chance to watch the matchup, because he’s an assistant to Silver Creek Coach Brandon Hoffman. The Dragons, who won the Class 3A sectional championship at North Harrison last week, will be playing in the Washington Regional Saturday morning against No. 1 Greensburg.

Fate — and life — sometimes intervenes. Hunter was planning on taking a break from coaching following the 2011-12 season, and following the March 2, 2012 tornado that destroyed not only Henryville High School but much of the town itself, Richey found a new home at Austin and Jones transferred to Clarksville.

Both acknowledge that they don’t get to spend a whole lot of time hanging out during basketball season, but once the offseason hits, they’re frequent companions.

Unfortunately, for at least one of them, the offseason will be in effect once the buzzer hits Saturday afternoon.

“It’s going to be bittersweet,” Richey said of Saturday morning’s contest. “He’s my best friend. For one of us, it’s going to be our last high school game. All I can do is go out there and try and do my best to help my team win.”

“It’s going to be crazy playing against him in that environment, considering how close we are and that we used to play with each other,” Jones said. “No one’s your friend on the basketball court. I know that’s my and Devin’s mentality. Even when we played against each other at the park — he knows that.”

While Clarksville defeated the Eagles 51-42 Jan. 18 in Austin, Connell said the triumverate of Richey, forward Markus Fleenor (15 ppg) and point guard Chris Mayfield (9 ppg) are an impressive combo his squad is preparing for.

Ending with their 68-56 win over Milan in the sectional championship game, Austin has strung together six consecutive wins heading into their contest with Clarksville on Saturday afternoon.

“Austin is a team that can score quickly, and that is going to be a challenge for us,” Connell said.

Of course, with Jones and guard Calvin McEwen (22 ppg, 7 ast), the Generals can put up points of their own, especially when they get their third guard, D.J. Coleman (11 ppg) in the mix.

Coleman averaged almost 16 points per game in sectional wins over Crawford County, Eastern and Providence, and if the Generals have a third option that makes them almost all the more difficult to beat, Austin coach Joe Sibbitt said.

“In that first game, I think Calvin McEwen only scored four points, but he still controlled the game,” said Sibbit, who is in his second year at the helm at Austin and is a former star player and coach at Paoli. “He was still penetrating, getting inside and finding the open man. I think he’s kind of the head of the beast and I have a lot of admiration for the way he plays.”

“But that’s what makes them so difficult to beat, if you take away one or two of them, even with Jones, they have other kids that can step up and can hit the open shot or make the big play.”


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