Time off beneficial as Bulldogs top Titans
Well-rested athletes didn’t arrest Richards’ on-court development.
In fact, Bulldogs coach John Chappetto was glad his guys received some unexpected time off last Tuesday, when sub-zero temperatures and snow combined to force the closure of many south suburban schools. That wiped out a scheduled nonconference contest with highly regarded Marian Catholic and meant Richards had gone a full two weeks without a game when it finally resumed on-court activities Friday night against Tinley Park.
All did not go perfectly for the Bulldogs in the South Suburban Conference crossover encounter, as was evidenced when the visiting Titans fought back from a 15-point third-quarter deficit and forged a tie midway through the final stanza.
“We had five guys on the floor who had no trust in each other,” Chappetto said. “It didn’t look good.”
Things looked better after Chappetto called a timeout to get his players on the same page. Richards responded with a 17-9 run over the last 3:40 and kept its league ledger spotless with an 83-72 triumph at D-Wade Court.
“We needed the timeout when I called it, for sure,” Chappetto said. “[Tinley Park is] OK — they have some talent, but I have a three-year starting point guard and a Division I center. It comes down to the team that has better talent, so we’d better win [in that situation].
“Tinley Park played on Jan. 3 and won, [so] I think the Marian Catholic postponement was good for us. I don’t think we were ready to play them, and if that [outcome] went south, Friday’s game would have been tough to get.”
The Bulldogs won just once in three tries at the Kankakee Tournament between Christmas and New Year’s, and the last of those games — against Carver — was played without junior guard Dedrick Shannon, who injured his ankle. So not only did Richards have to sit for a while on a sizable loss, but Shannon’s availability in early January was iffy.
“His last game was Dec. 27, and he didn’t do anything except try to get healthy until Jan. 9,” Chappetto said.
Shannon didn’t make his presence felt very keenly against Tinley until the fourth period, when he notched 10 of the Bulldogs’ last 25 points. His drive to the hoop initiated Richards’ closing run and then, following a Titans turnover, Deon Alexander’s three-point play off a putback got the Bulldogs (10-3, 5-0) rolling in earnest.
“We didn’t do anything different,” Chappetto said. “Our turnovers, our missed free throws and our bad defense had gotten us in trouble, and it snowballed. But all of a sudden we realized we were in a tie game and we needed to be a little bit more together.
“We just had to stop getting upset with each other and focus on the next play. [It helped that] Tinley quit scoring as well.”
Shannon finished with 18 points for Richards, second only to Chicago State University-bound center Josh Meier’s team-high total of 20. Other Bulldogs reaching double digits were Spencer Tears (17 points) and Thaer Othman (11).
Richards survived a nightmarish exhibition at the charity stripe, where it misfired on half of its 38 attempts. By doing so, it maintained a two-game edge in the loss column over SSC Red pursuers Reavis and Shepard.
Conference matchups versus Lemont and Oak Forest were on this week’s docket, as are two games in the Rockford Jefferson Tournament on Saturday. That event continues on Monday with two more contests, as the Bulldogs tangle with a pair of foes from Rockford and a couple others from Belvidere.
“We play six games in six days,” Chappetto said. “This is going to be a tough stretch for us.”
No official makeup date for the Marian game has yet been settled on, but Chappetto anticipates it taking place sometime in February.
Tinley Park 10 19 22 21 - 72
Richards 15 24 19 25 - 83
Richards Scoring: Meier 20, Shannon 18, Tears 17, T. Othman 11, Alexander 9, Catledge 6, White 2.