ST. PAULS — For the third straight game, Richmond Senior girls basketball coach Victoria DeFrate bragged about her team’s defense.
And who would blame her?
“I was pleased with our defensive effort,” DeFrate said. “We held them to single digits in three quarters.”
That play on the defensive end sparked Richmond to a 63-31 victory over St. Pauls Wednesday night in the opening round of the Robeson County Shootout.
The Raiders limited Cheraw and Douglas Byrd to single digits in three quarters as well in their previous two outings.
St. Pauls coach Michael White knew going into the matchup his squad was going to have problems with Richmond’s size.
“We are very vertically challenged and we were out-manned from the start,” White said. “We have to run our system, but when teams get runs on us, we aren’t mature enough to stay in our offense.”
The Bulldogs tied the game at 5 midway through the first quarter before the Raiders reeled off 15 straight points to seize control of the game and support White’s assessment. St. Pauls went more than seven minutes without a field goal in the first half and lost the battle on the boards.
“Their size can be completely demoralizing,” White said. “We would block them out, but they were able to reach over the top of us. It is frustrating on defense and it turns into turnovers on offense.”
Richmond center Jade Evans took advantage of the mismatch in height to score 16 points, the majority of her baskets came on putbacks of her own misses. Shaquail Wall netted 16 as well, hitting two 3-point field goals.
“They played a zone against us and we were able to run our zone offense,” DeFrate said. “We swung the ball around to the open girl and we didn’t force any shots.”
Despite extending its winning streak to three and improving to 4-1 on the season, DeFrate wasn’t pleased with the way her team played in the beginning of the game.
“They were pressuring us a lot and we had to get the girls in the right position,” she said. “We knew they were going to run us because they were shorter than us.”
Richmond will face Red Springs 6 p.m. Friday at Fairmont in the semifinals. The Red Devils edged the Golden Tornadoes 41-38. In the lower half of the bracket, Lumberton rolled past South Robeson 70-46 and will face Dillon (S.C.) Friday. The Bulldogs got past Purnell Swett 62-32.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.