RICHMOND — Those wondering if Richmond was ready for the upcoming Class C boys tournament got a definitive answer Wednesday night.

Led by 36 points from junior Zach Small, the Bobcats rolled over Valley of Bingham, 89-37. Richmond enters the Class C South tournament seeded second at 16-1. Valley (11-7) likely will be the third seed in the Class D South tournament.

The Bobcats played a close game against the Cavaliers a month ago in Bingham, winning by eight, thanks to a season-high 43 points from Small.

“They came out and really took it to us in the second half,” Richmond coach Phil Houdlette said. “They got it down to three (points) twice.”

There were no such worries Wednesday night. The Bobcats jumped out to a 25-7 first-quarter lead behind Small, who scored 15 points on a pair of 3-pointers, a three-point play, a steal, a rebound and a jumper in the lane.

“I would say my game’s evolved from the inside to the outside so now I have kind of both sides,” Small said. “We have four other guys on the team if I have an off night or they focus on me (they) can step and take over just like I could.”


Junior Nate Kendrick scored 11 points off the bench for the Bobcats while Matt Rines scored 10 and Matt Holt added eight points and seven rebounds.

“The biggest thing that we’ve improved on is our togetherness,” Small said. “We’ve had one setback this year (against North Yarmouth) where we didn’t come out together, but ever since then we’ve been playing on a different level.”

The Cavs closed the half on a 13-2 run with senior Austin Cates scoring seven of his team-high 13 points in the run. Joseph Thomas (eight points) capped the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle. The Cavs cut the lead to 45-29 on back-to-back hoops early in the second half but the Bobcats responded with 26-2 run to put the game away. Small scored 13 points in the run before going to the bench for good late in the quarter, which ended with Richmond in front 71-31.

The question now is can the Bobcats compete with the best teams in Class C after playing a schedule primarily consisting of Class D opponents.

“If you don’t come ready to play it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Houdlette said. “Obviously, against that kind of competition we’ll have to minimize our mistakes. As long as we do what we can control I think we’ll be OK.”

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