Richmond looks to defend tourney title


First Posted: 12/20/2012

ROCKINGHAM — It’s been three years since Richmond Senior has dropped a game in the Holiday in the Pines girls basketball tournament.

The Raiders fell in the 2009 championship contest to the host school Pinecrest 68-65. The next year, Richmond rebounded to stop North Moore to advance to the title tilt, where it knocked off the Patriots 41-30 to the win the title. The event was not held in 2011.

But it will take a Herculean effort for the Raiders to keep their modest Holiday in the Pines winning streak intact.

Richmond will open the tournament against undefeated Chapel Hill today at 6 p.m. On the other side of the draw, Pinecrest (5-4) will battle Hough (7-1) in the nightcap. The losers of tonight’s contests will battle at 3 p.m. Saturday, while the winners will face-off for the title at 4:30 p.m.

Through seven games, the Tigers are averaging 70.6 points a game while surrendering just 23.6 — a difference of 47 points per outing. The Raiders are averaging 46.8 points and allowing 48.4 per game.

Raziyah Farrington is only Chapel Hill player averaging double figures at 10 points a game, but it has five others scoring at least 6.1 points per game.

“Obviously they’re a good team,” Richmond coach Victoria DeFrate said. “I told the team they’re good, they just don’t know how good.”

The teams have one common opponent this season — Union Pines. The Tigers cruised to a 55-16 over the Vikings Wednesday evening, while Union Pines edged Richmond 38-36 on Saturday.

While the Tigers have roared out of the gates, the Raiders have recently fallen on hard times, losing their last six games, including Wednesday’s 60-57 defeat to 1A South Robeson. The loss dropped the Raiders to 2-6 on the season.

“We hope to hold our own and play aggressive,” DeFrate said. “We will pressure the ball like we always do. It won’t matter if we don’t take care of the ball. We are going to play like it’s any other game.”

After squandering a nine-point lead with 93 seconds remaining in the loss to South Robeson, DeFrate said her team returned to practice Thursday looking forward rather than dwelling on the defeat.

“They always come in ready to work hard,” DeFrate said. “They were disappointed in the loss, but they know the season’s not over. We can’t focus too much on the loss when we have to turnaround and play a team like Chapel Hill.”

Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at sstinson@heartlandpublications.com.

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