ROCKINGHAM — Two games into the new season and the boys and girls basketball teams at Richmond Senior are existing in two different worlds, for now.
Back-to-back victories over Anson County and Union Pines has the boys team riding high heading into this weekend’s matchup.
The Raiders broke the school record for most points in a game (130) and the state record for most points in a quarter (50) against Anson. They’ve had a well-balanced attack in both games, seeing the entire roster score in the season opener and 14 of its 15 players record points last Friday.
As for the girls team, its two losses in the first two games hasn’t been ideal.
The Lady Raiders held an advantage over Anson at halftime but found themselves on the wrong end of a third-quarter run that put the game out of reach. Union Pines’ guard play and constant pressure overwhelmed Richmond in a 52-40 defeat.
Neither team is getting too high or too low, however. Both sides understand that they have a long season ahead.
“We have a young team. We’re still trying to find the combinations on the floor and they’re still learning to play together,” girls coach Rosalind McDonald said after Friday night’s game. “I think because they are so young, sometimes the pressure can be a little intimidating. They’ll grow and we’ll improve in that aspect.”
A key part of the team’s growth and improvement will start with Zelda McLaughlin, who is leading the Lady Raiders with an average of 16.5 points per game. McDonald believes the senior post player has the talent to be the best in the Southeastern Conference.
”I’ve also challenged her (McLaughlin) to not just settle for being on the conference team, but being the conference player of the year,” McDonald said late last month. “I definitely think she has the talent to do it, she just has to want to do it.”
Saleemah Brown is the second leading scorer on the team (7 ppg) and Keiona Love and Alexis Swiney share third (4 ppg).
The boys team has four players averaging double figures, with Antonio Diggs’ 13.5 points per game being the team-high. Seniors Devonta McNair (12 ppg), Leon Zeigler (11.5 ppg) and Jordan Tillman (11 ppg) complete the list.
Richmond’s dedication to running “The System” has paid off on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. The Raiders average 117 points per game and have forced 73 turnovers in two contests.
David Laton, head coach, attributes that to his team’s unselfishness and ability to capitalize off of its opponents mistakes — saying the players do a great job of “helping each other out.”
A couple of opponents, however, have been able to enjoy big-scoring nights against the Raiders. Although their teams eventually fell, Ervin Bennett (Anson) and Jayson Upchurch (Union Pines) poured in 37 and 30 points, respectively.
“We’re going to make a little adjustment in our press next week, which I think will help us some,” Laton explained after the win over Union Pines. “We want to keep the traps going and make it tougher to pass the ball out.”
Both Richmond teams will continue to practice this week before making the trip to South Carolina this Saturday to take on non-conference opponent Cheraw at 6 p.m.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.