It took the Richmond Academy boys basketball players two games to realize they could not win merely by glancing down at their chests.
Three days after a surprising loss to Laney, the Musketeers throttled Butler on Tuesday night, 78-59, in the Region 3-AAAA opener for both teams.
"We thought we could go out and win just because we have 'Richmond' across the front of our jerseys," coach Steve Nobles said of his Musketeers, who are expected to be the top team in the area.
Richmond Academy, which returns four starters from last year's state semifinal team, never trailed against Butler and led by at least 20 points most of the final three quarters.
Point guard Desmond Lofland had a team-high 12 points to help Richmond Academy overcome a size deficiency with a significant advantage in the backcourt. Its transition offense and perimeter shooting helped marginalize the size of a Butler team that started three players 6-foot-4 or taller.
Nobles said his team defended significantly better against the Bulldogs after they practiced their man-to-man principles on Monday. They also worked on a zone defense but didn't need to use it after racing to an 18-point halftime lead.
Ivan Rushen (11) and Tommy Williams (10) also scored in double figures for Richmond Academy, which led by 30 late in the third quarter.
"The other night was a big wake-up call," said Lofland, one of four Richmond Academy players to make a 3-pointer. "This was more like it."
Butler, which got 14 points from Chris Washington, made the final margin respectable with a 27-point fourth quarter. The Bulldogs struggled to score when they weren't shooting inside the paint or drawing a foul. The teams combined to hoist 61 free throws in a tightly called game that often careened toward sloppy.
"I think we were a little bit stronger than they were," Nobles said. "They are a young team that is only going to get better. They play hard. At the end of the year, they will be a force."
The final score of this one, Lofland said, should make clear what the other 10 teams in the region should expect from the defending champions.
"We are going 20-0," he said.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.