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January 5, 2014

H.S. BOYS’ BASKETBALL:Devils finish fourth at Richmond after pair of losses

Rock Creek closes with win over No. 5 Tindley; Floyd finishes tournament 1-3

RICHMOND — After halftime of Jeffersonville’s 63-45 loss to host Richmond in the semifinals of the Bob Wettig Memorial Tournament on Saturday, it was obvious the Red Devils were dragging in their third game in as many days.

Class 4A No. 16 Jeff trailed Class 4A No. 7 Richmond 29-26 at the half before being outscored 21-10 in the third quarter and 13-9 in the fourth.

Still, first-year Red Devil coach Matt Pait didn’t want to hear the possibility that exhaustion was an excuse.

“No, I don’t think that’s it at all,” Pait said. “Being tired, I don’t think that had anything to do with it.”

Jeff senior Keenan Williams, who was a tournament MVP candidate heading into Saturday’s semifinal, went just 1 for 8 from the field. All six of his outside shots came up short. Pait wouldn’t even concede that Williams may have been drained.

“He was taking bad shots, it’s as simple as that,” Pait said. “There were several possessions where we took bad shots or turned the ball over. We’re not going to beat anybody that way.”

Pait put all the blame on his defense for the semifinal loss. Richmond’s Michael Tillman scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half and knocked down six of his seven 3-point shots after the break. A couple of them were as far as 25 feet away.

“We just quit defending,” Pait said. “[Tillman] is their guy. He was the potential to hit [long 3s] and we have to defend him out there and go lights out on us. We gave him a couple to get start, and once he got started, the rim looked huge. Yeah, he did hit a couple of tough ones there and give them the credit, but we also hit a couple of layups and wide open 3s.”

Despite senior center Dionte Allen picked up two fouls on one play — a technical and a personal when he tangled up with Richmond center Zach Lett — Jeff was only down a point after one quarter when Leonard Kwitonda scored on a baseline drive with four seconds left.

Pait said wasn’t watching when Allen and Lett had their altercation.

“I really didn’t see the first part of it,” Pait said. “I saw [Allen] react.”

Chad Hudson led the Red Devils with 11 points. Tyrise Major, Drew Ellis and Allen scored eight apiece. Allen led Jeff with six boards and Ellis had four of the Devils’ six assists.

In the second game, Jeffersonville (6-3) was no match for No. 9 Fort Wayne North, which lost a heartbreaker to No. 10 Columbus North in the semifinal round.

The 11-1 Redskins outscored Jeff 24-11 in the first quarter and were never challenged. North led 45-24 at the half.

Sophomore Demarre Sims, who played very well in three of the tournament’s four games, led Jeff with 20 points. Allen added 18 points in the loss.

Despite going 2-2 and playing poorly on Saturday, Pait said the tournament will serve as a learning experience.

“Our guys right now are just struggling to figure each other out,” he said. “It’s still early in the season.”

Floyd Central (1-7) went 0-2 on Saturday, as well. After beating Portage to open tournament play, the Highlanders dropped their last three games while struggling to score.

In the first game of the day, they trailed just 29-23 at halftime before Norwell went on a 39-23 run to close the game for a 68-46 victory. Floyd Central coach Mark Lieberman was ejected after picking up a pair of technical fouls and did not coach in the Highlanders’ 76-65 loss to Hoosier Hills Conference-rival Bedford North Lawrence in the seventh-place game.

Myles Ervin, who was the only player named to the All-Tournament team, had 12 points against Norwell. Zane Nichols had a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.

Rock Creek Academy (5-5) closed the tournament with a 61-49 victory over Class A No. 5 Indianapolis Tindley for 13th place.

Will Brown, who tied a tournament record with nine 3-pointers on Friday, scored 14 points in Saturday’s win. Fellow-junior Ronald Karenzi finished with 12 points in the victory. Gedeon Nzombi accomplished three double-doubles in the tournament run.

“It was an interesting tourney, to say the least. We played well the last three games,” Brown said. “It was a great weekend and we got better.”

Columbus North (9-2) won its third straight Wettig title with an 81-60 win over Richmond.

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