"My dad taught me a lot," says Rich. "He taught me all the moves, the fake right-go left, the fake left-go right, hesitations off the dribble. But then he'd know what was coming. He'd try to intimidate me. He'd block my shot. He can't now, but he used to. So that day, I just got mad and said let's go. The first game I beat him, and he said, 'Aw, I can't leave with you beating me.' So I beat him again, and again. And it was so good. I thought, Right now, everything's paid off."
Rick had mixed feelings that day. "I was kind of on the fence," he says. "I mean, I could see he was improving, and that was great. I could see those scoring moves that I used. You know they're coming and you take those fakes anyway. But I still wanted to wax his fanny. Richie was pleased with himself. He wouldn't smile, but I could tell he wanted to."
Rich dreams of state championships, last-second shots and 38-inch inseams. Says Rosenstihl, "He thinks about wanting to be tall. We've had three Indiana All-Stars here since Rick, and if he develops, I think Richie can be one, too. Richie is driven to be a star."
The HOME OF RICK MOUNT sign is gone. The new sign reads LEBANON, INDIANA, POPULATION 12,156, A GOOD PLACE TO LIVE. The streets are quiet, and the only game in town is the one against Hammond at the high school gym. Rich Mount is the center of attention. It is the first game of his sophomore season, and he has already been picked third-team All-State. The pressure is on, the Mount family legacy is his tonight, and there is no escaping it.
In the first half, Rich shoots 3 for 15, a disaster, and Lebanon is down 24-19. Later he confesses, "I was kind of nervous at first. But every shot I released really felt good. They just didn't go down. At halftime, I said to myself, I know they're going to start falling."
They did. He hit 6 of his first 10 in the second half. Lebanon pulled closer, then with a few minutes to go, Rich turned his ankle and went down hard on the floor. He was in pain, but he did not leave the game. He limped through the last moments, even scored two baskets. When the buzzer sounded, Lebanon had lost its opener 54-48 to the bigger, quicker team from Hammond. But Rich Mount had scored 28 of those 48 points.
His dad was there and afterward he was full of his son's game. "He had about eight shots go in and out that first half. He could've scored 40, easy," said the Rocket. Some of the sideline connoisseurs were discussing Rich's jumper, and one of them said, "It doesn't make you swoon like Rick's did. It just goes in." But then Rick began talking about a picture of Rich he had seen in a paper not long ago. "When I looked at that picture, I thought about my shooting form," he said. "It was scary."
And last week, after five games, young Rich Mount was averaging 19.2 a game. Some fans have started calling him the Missile.