The "Nest Nuts" were out in full force, the crowd was in a festive mood and Chris Richardson continued to surprise nearly everyone with his new-found scoring punch.
Richardson powered his way inside for 20 points last night, leading Francis Scott Key to an 82-69 victory over North Hagerstown in a fast-paced Monocacy Valley Athletic League basketball game at Key.
It was the fifth win in as many games at home for the Eagles.
The Richardson offensive show, his best ever at home, came on a night the Eagles (7-6, 5-4 in MVAL) needed it because usual Eagles' scoring leader Topher Casserly got into early foul trouble for the second straight game.
Casserly fouled out in Tuesday night's loss to Middletown on the road, and last night he collected his third foul with four minutes left in the second quarter.
Casserly, averaging 20 points going into the game, struggled the rest of the night, except for a nifty dunk midway through the fourth quarter.
The "Nest Nuts," a group of Key fans who make numerous signs for every home game and sell T-shirts, especially loved the Casserly jam.
Casserly was limited to nine points, and followed Richardson (20 points, six rebounds), Steve Wright (20 points, eight rebounds) and Mike Crawmer (11 points, six assists) in the Key scoring column.
Jason Smothers led the Hubs with 24 points.
Richardson, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound football running back and linebacker, was just too strong inside for the Hubs and came close to his career-high of 21 points. Those 21 points were scored just last week on the road against Catoctin.
Until those two scoring outbursts, Richardson was much more renowned for his all-out defensive play. He was averaging eight points a game.
Key coach Jeff Cook said the emergence of Richardson has been beautiful to watch.
"Chris realizes we have the potential to have an outstanding season and he wants us to take advantage of it," said Cook. "We almost had six guys in double figures tonight and you're usually going to win when that happens."
"They [Key] just have too many people to stop now that Richardson is doing all this scoring," said North Hagerstown coach Tim McNamee. "We're not that good an outside shooting team and had hoped to take the ball inside but we didn't have much success."
McNamee was ejected from the game by official Bob Schildt with 56 seconds left in the third quarter after Schildt called two technical fouls on the coach for arguing over an intentional foul called against North Hagerstown's Randy Broadus on a layup attempt by Key's Dan Stephenson.
"I thought my kid [Broadus] was just going for the ball," said McNamee. "But I don't want to take anything away from the Key victory. They played great."
The Eagles were leading 51-39 at the time of the technicals and hit four of six free throws awarded.