Richmond Academy boys basketball coach Robert Rhodes says he's a blessed man.
His Musketeers sit atop the Region 3-AAA (A) subregion standings with Statesboro and control their destiny as far as the subregion tournament is concerned.
Tuesday night, they took care of business, pounding host Westside 68-56 to improve to 13-7 overall and 6-1 in the subregion.
The ARC girls also took a subregion victory, beating Westside's Lady Patriots 49-39.
With three games left in subregion play, the Musketeers can draw a first-round bye if they can finish either first or second. However, Richmond can't get ahead of itself. It plays host to fourth-ranked Thomson, a team it beat 68-66 earlier this season before rounding out the season with seventh-ranked Statesboro.
"I just thank God for the talent that he's given me on this team," Rhodes said. "These seniors have been with me for four years and they know what to do."
Richmond knew exactly what to do Tuesday night. The Musketeers slowly pulled away from Westside (6-12, 2-5) in the first quarter, building a 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Then they poured it on in the second half, using their inside game to pound the boards while their quick guards drained bucket after bucket from the outside. Keyed by James Stokeling's four points, the Musketeers used a 12-4 run over the first 5:07 of the second quarter to build a 13-point lead.
ARC led 34-17 at halftime but baskets from Westside's Earlston Bean and Marlon Bussey to open the third trimmed the lead to 34-21 before a 7-0 run over the next 53 seconds, capped by Darrin Shine's three-point play, gave ARC its largest lead at 41-21 with 5:44 left in the third.
Westside's Mike Avery drilled a three-pointer from the left wing to start the fourth quarter to trim the lead to 51-40 and it seemed the Patriots would get back in it.
However, Ricky McPherson hit two free throws, then H.J. Welcher hit McPherson underneath the basket to push ARC's lead to 59-44 with 5:25 left.
Westside cut the lead to 11 points with 3:24 left on two free throws from Bean to make it 61-50, but couldn't draw any closer.
Stokeling led ARC with 17 points but he established himself as the Musketeers' go-to-guy.
"My guys know what to do when the game gets tight and that is get the ball to Stokeling," Rhodes said. "I think we have the best inside game in the region."
In the girls game, Westside (1-18, 1-6) hung tough with ARC (7-10, 4-3) after the first quarter, but a 21-11 Richmond run over the second quarter opened the floodgates and allowed them to build a 30-17 halftime lead.
A 10-3 Lady Musketeer run over the final 3:27 of the third quarter opened up ARC's biggest lead of the game at 45-23.
RICHMOND (68) -- James Stokeling 17, Darrin Shine 11, Ricky McPherson 10, H.J. Welcher 10, Kevin Mack 8, James Safford 7, Willie Mazyck 2, Daryl Reeves 1, Victor Reese 1, Nick Black 1. Totals 24 19-24 68.
WESTSIDE (56) -- Earlston Bean 14, Mike Avery 10, Marlon Bussey 9, Brandon Marshall 8, Larry Walker 3, Quinton McGruder 3, Ashey Irby 3, Evan Butler Sands 2, Jessie Scott 2, Derrick Larke 2. Totals 19 15-18 56.
Richmond -- 13 21 17 17 -- 68
Westside -- 8 9 20 19 -- 56
3-point goals: Richmond 1 (Safford); Westside 3 (Avery 2, Irby 1). Records: Richmond Academy 13-7 overall, 6-1 Region 3-AAA (A); Westside 6-12 overall, 2-5 Region 3-AAA (A).
RICHMOND (49) -- Nametris Norman 12, Jennifer Mathis 11, Melissa Gouchie 10, Edwina Johnson 6, Taisha Smith 5, Bridgette Cates 3, Molly Allen 2. Totals 22 4-10 49.
WESTSIDE (59) -- Keena Ware 8, Melissa Presnell 7, Sherri Darden 6, Victoria Lewis 6, Emily Boedy 4, Keisha Morton 3, Caroline Hardy 2, Sally Childers 2, Shannon Jefferson 1. Totals 14 9-21 39.
Richmond -- 9 21 15 4 -- 49
Westside -- 6 11 8 14 -- 39
3-point goals: Richmond 1 (Johnson). Records: Richmond 7-10 overall, 4-3 Region 3-AAA (A); Westside 1-18 overall, 1-6 Region 3-AAA (A).
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