SOUTHERN PINES — The Richmond Senior girls team motto is “Nothing else matters but playing hard.”
In its 65-45 win over Pinecrest Friday night, Heaven Smith put those words into action.
Even though the junior finished with only nine points, her play caught the attention of her coach Victoria DeFrate.
“I thought Heaven played really well and Kivana (Keane) played well too,” DeFrate said. “Kivana had to run point some because Davina (LeGrande) got into foul trouble.”
Smith just missed joining Shaquail Wall and Jade Evans in double figures. Wall netted a game-high 22 points, draining four 3-pointers. Evans added 10. Smith was upset with herself for missing six free throws in the game, including five in the fourth quarter.
“It was just off,” Smith said about her free-throw shooting.
Smith added the majority of her points were the result of the team running the plays and being in the right spot.
“I knew my plays and we ran them right,” Smith said. “I’m happy because I usually get fussed at a lot in practice.”
Just like Smith, very little went wrong for the Raiders against the Patriots. After a hard-fought opening quarter, Richmond outscored Pinecrest by 11 in the second to take a 15-point lead into the halftime break.
The Patriots managed a small rally in the opening moments of the second half, slicing their deficit to eight. The Raiders responded with a 13-0 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes to regain control.
“I thought they came out strong and made some quick shots off our turnovers,” DeFrate said. “We have go to do better.”
With the victory, Richmond improves to 9-4 overall and 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Pinecrest drops to 4-10 on the season and 1-3 in the SEC.
“It was a big conference win and have we can focus on Scotland,” DeFrate said. “We have bounced back from where we started with the loss to Hoke and won three in a row. Now we need to take the momentum into Scotland on Tuesday.”
Scotland remained perfect in conference play following its 41-36 win over Lumberton. The Scots are 6-7 overall and 4-0 in the league. The Pirates drop to 10-6 and 1-2.
In the other SEC game, Hoke County improved to 2-1 in the conference with a 57-41 victory over Purnell Swett.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.