Richmond Academy coaches knew their decision was a gamble.
Senior Desmond Lofland picked up his third foul early in the second quarter, and without him the Musketeers was locked in a tight game at halftime.
Lofland was sent back on the floor to start the second half and exploded during the third quarter, helping the Musketeers blow open their eventual 77-67 victory over the Knights.
"I talked with our assistants and decided to roll the dice," Richmond Academy coach Steve Nobles said. "He made the gamble worth it."
Lofland scored 10 of his 18 points in the third quarter. The Musketeers, who led by two at halftime, stretched their advantage to 16 entering the final eight minutes.
Nobles' team (6-1, 5-0 Region 3-AAAA) remained undefeated to start region play. Raston Brown led the Musketeers with 22 points.
Lofland said the Musketeers concentrated on a fast start, that they wanted to set the tone early. The Musketeers started the game on a 9-0 run.
"We watched a clip of (University of) North Carolina the other day," Lofland said. "They got the ball down the floor and scored in three seconds. That's what we try to push to do -- set the tempo high."
Evans (4-2, 4-2) , which suffered its first region loss last week at Josey, made several attempts to close the gap. The closest the Knights came in the final quarter was nine points, after a Troy Griffith 3 pulled his team to within 61-52.
The Musketeers never trailed, and the only tie came with 34 seconds left in the second quarter.
That their lead was only two at halftime was a point of pride for Evans coach Kevin Kenny after the game.
Evans senior Tony Davis, who led all scorers with 25 points, made three consecutive baskets to even the game at 32 with less than a minute before halftime. But the Musketeers scored again before the half and controlled the boards and created turnovers to pull away in the third quarter.
"They got too many second shots the third quarter," Kenny said. "We turned the ball over a couple times. Richmond turns those into points real quick."
Kenny returned only two players who received significant playing time a season ago. He said the senior-laden Musketeers made a comeback difficult for his young squad.
"They made their run, we couldn't weather it," Kenny said. "They took advantage of that, like a well-coached team does."
RICHMOND ACADEMY 77, EVANS 67
RICHMOND (77)-- Raston Brown 22, Desmond Lofland 18, Cedric Scott 11, Ivan Rushin 8, Don Quarles 8, Tommy Williams 6, Alex Jiles 2, Christian Nobles 2. Totals: 27 18-29 77.
EVANS (67)-- Tony Davis 25, Troy Griffith 12, Justin Black 8, Trevor Foreman 8, Craig Garr 6, Marvin Marshall 4, Austin Sandifer 3, Tavarus Ferguson 1. Totals: 31 4-8 67.
Richmond Academy 21 13 23 20 -- 77
Evans 14 18 9 26 -- 67
3-point goals: Evans 1 (Griffith), Richmond Academy 1 (Brown).
Records: Richmond Academy 6-1, 5-0 Region 3-AAAA. Evans: 4-2, 4-2 Region 3-AAAA.
Next: Richmond Academy at Glenn Hills, Friday, 8:30 p.m. Evans at Cross Creek, 8:30 p.m., Friday.
Reach Stephen Fastenau at (706) 863-6165, ext. 116, or stephen.fastenau@augusta chronicle.com.