Editor’s note — The Richmond County Daily Journal will look back at the top moments from the Richmond Senior athletic department this season.
ROCKINGHAM — The timing couldn’t have been any worse.
Coming off a 38-point loss to Anson County two days before, the Richmond Senior girls basketball team played host to its bitter rival to the east — Scotland — in the regular-season finale for both schools.
After jumping out to an 11-2 record, the Raiders were stumbling heading into postseason play. Richmond was just 3-5 in its next eight games and faced falling to third in the Southeastern Conference standings with a loss.
Scotland, on the other hand, was hitting its stride coming into the game with a 16-5 overall record and a perfect 9-0 SEC mark.
In the end, Richmond escaped with a 55-42 victory and earned the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament as well as the state playoffs.
The Fighting Scots scored the game’s first 10 points and seemed poised to sweep the season series from the Raiders. The beginning of the contest was eerily similar to Richmond’s loss to Anson. The Bearcats limited the Raiders to nine first-half points and hounded Tiara Ellerbe from the opening tip. Ellerbe, Richmond’s leading scorer on the season, was limited to three points in the Anson loss.
Instead of being run out of the gym for the second straight game, the Raiders responded by scoring the final six points of the quarter to build a little momentum.
“That was really big,” Richmond coach Nellie Harrington said. “We really started off cold. I told them they needed to run around or do something and get warm because if they didn’t, Scotland would have run us out of the gym. Once we settled down and got into our offense, it was easy.”
The Raiders took the lead for good on a jumper by reserve Kayla Ewing at the 3:39 mark of the second quarter and maintained a comfortable cushion for the remainder of the contest.
The Fighting Scots made a final push to remain undefeated in league play but coach David Johnson was whistled for a technical foul with 2:06 left to play. Richmond turned the technical into a four-point possession to ice the game.
“We knew we just had to play our game,” Ellerbe said.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com