RAEFORD — The second matchup between the top two schools in the Southeastern Conference looked pretty much like the first.
Hoke County used a late-game spurt to turn back Richmond Senior 63-50 Friday night to remain undefeated in league play. The Bucks improve to 5-0 in the SEC and 17-2 overall, while the Raiders drop to 4-2 and 14-5.
Richmond trimmed a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to three behind Shydamion Ellerbe, who scored eight points during a 10-0 run. Ellerbe finished the contest with a game-high 19 points and 15 rebounds.
Hoke responded with a fast-break basket from Tarique Thompson and a 3-point field goal by Tymell Blue in a 21-second spurt to extend its advantage back to eight. Blue netted 13 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth, including hitting all four of his free-throw attempts in the final minute to ice the game.
Richmond coach David Laton thought the mini-run by the Bucks ended his team’s hopes for a comeback.
“That stretch where we gave up a layup, a 3 and had a couple of turnovers really hurt us,” Laton said. “Turnovers killed us. I hope we get to play them again.”
Laton added two scoreless stretches in the third quarter were tough to overcome against a good team like Hoke.
“We had really good open shots and we didn’t make them,” Laton said. “We made some adjustments at halftime against their zone. We had the looks, we just didn’t make them.”
Thompson, who entered the game averaging 23 points a game, was limited to 13 and scored just four in the second half. Laton credited Ellerbe for his defensive effort against last season’s conference player of the year, “He did a great job on him when we went to man-to-man.”
Richmond will return to action 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when Purnell Swett visits Raider Gymnasium. The Rams lost to Scotland Friday to fall to 3-14 on the season and 1-4 in the conference.
— 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.