King leads Anderson past ninth-ranked Richmond

Feb. 1—ANDERSON — After suffering the recent loss of a family member, star junior Damien King was offered the option of sitting out Thursday's home game against Richmond by Anderson coach Donnie Bowling, who recognized family takes precedence over basketball.

That was not how King wanted to honor his uncle Jerome "Rome" King, who died earlier in the week.

"I can't take this off because it's a big game, a (North Central Conference) game," he said. "I just wanted to dedicate this to him. He was around a lot. He was on my mind a lot. Every bucket was for him."

"I didn't know if he was going to play," Bowling said. "His uncle had passed away yesterday. ... I told him yesterday 'It's just a game.' He didn't have to play. He said, 'No, coach, I'm going to practice, and I'm going to play.'"

King's inspired play led to a 27-point, 13-rebound performance — including a steal and breakaway dunk that sealed the victory — as Anderson held off Class 4A ninth-ranked Richmond 50-45 on Phil Buck Court to remain undefeated in NCC play.

Anderson (14-4, 4-0 NCC) won the first of five straight NCC games to close out the regular season while the Red Devils dropped to 18-2 overall and 4-1 in the conference.

The final game of this stretch for the Indians will be at Kokomo, the only other remaining unbeaten in the NCC.

King, already entertaining offers from a number of Division I schools, shined on a night a number of college coaches were in attendance to watch the Anderson junior as well as Richmond's 6-foot-5 swingman Cedric Horton, who led the Red Devils with 20 points.

Also 6-5, King was the lone Anderson big man against Richmond, which boasts five such players on its varsity roster. It made for the type of challenge a star athlete relishes.

"That drives heavily knowing (scouts) are here but also knowing it's an opportunity for my teammates as well," King said. "I just want to play hard every single game."

Although it trailed by two at halftime, Anderson led much of the evening, and a Horton 3-pointer pulled Richmond within one point at 41-40 early in the fourth.

But Javon Warfield made one free throw before King scored on the block after Louis Jackson threaded a needle with the pass, pushing the Anderson lead to 44-40 with just over two minutes remaining.

Horton scored on a rebound basket with 50 seconds left, and after King was fouled, he made one of two free throws with 37 seconds remaining for a 46-42 lead.

King rebounded Horton's missed 3-point attempt and converted two free throws after he was fouled. With 13.7 seconds left, King stole a Richmond pass and dribbled for the uncontested dunk and a game-sealing 50-42 lead.

He did not do it alone. Warfield finished with 15 points and five rebounds, Jackson had five rebounds with three assists and Spencer Proctor hit a 3-point basket and added five rebounds and a blocked shot off the Indians' bench.

"They came up clutch. They stepped up a bunch," King said. "We needed it, and they came through in hard times. The clock was ticking."

Despite the size disadvantage, Anderson dominated Richmond 36-22 on the glass.

"That was the Lawrence Central game. I got on their butts bad," Bowling said. "I thought we were the better team. They beat us. That's fine, but they beat us on the boards. They were scrappier than us."

A four-point play by King and an ensuing 3-point conversion by Warfield staked Anderson to its biggest first-half lead at 19-13.

But consecutive dunks from Horton — including one that turned into a three-point play — led a Red Devils' surge through the remainder of the first half. Mason Carpenter made four straight free throws to tie the game at 24-24 before giving Richmond a two-point halftime advantage with a drive to the basket just before intermission.

Anderson's season-ending tour of the NCC will continue Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. tip at Marion before returning home to host Logansport on Feb. 9.

Anderson took a 55-41 win over Richmond in the junior varsity contest, led by William Davis with 14 points and Zamarion Bryant and Nyrel Ingram with 13 points each.

Contact Rob Hunt at

or 765-640-4886.