Despite this indisputable fact, the Richmond Senior Lady Raiders have to be feeling pretty darned good about where they are right now.
The Lady Raiders are undefeated at 2-0 in SEC play after the opening week and a half of the 2010-11 conference season. They are coming off an especially gratifying road win over rival Lumberton last Friday night.
Richmond, despite looking a bit rusty after a week-long layoff due to last week’s winter storm, ratcheted up the defensive pressure in the second half and was able to pull away from the Lady Pirates for the 44-31 win.
Now, Lady Raider coach Nellie Harrington and her team shift their eyes away from the SEC prize briefly, as they entertain interstate rival Cheraw Wednesday night in a 5 p.m. tipoff. The game is a varsity-only contest.
The Lady Raiders (10-2 overall) handed the Lady Braves a 52-45 loss in Cheraw two weeks ago, and Harrington knows Cheraw would love to return the favor at Raider Gymnasium Wednesday night.
High on Harrington’s agenda at practice today will be reminding her team of that. The Lady Raiders practiced on Saturday, since Richmond students were in school to make up a snow day. They had Monday off for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
“We can’t afford to look past Cheraw, because they are a good team, and they gave us a good battle at their place,” Harrington said.
With the season near its midpoint, Harrington has settled on a workable starting five and substitution rotation.
Junior Tiara Ellerbe is the point guard, with senior Demi Watkins filling the “2” or shooting guard role. Malaysia Bloomfield is the small forward, with senior I’Teionna McLaughlin at power forward (the “4”). Junior Taylor Diggs, a pleasant surprise in 2010-11, has played well enough to claim the starting center or “5” spot.
Alexis Galbreath, a guard, is the first player off the bench, usually spelling Watkins and taking over the point, with Ellerbe moving to the shooting guard spot. Freshman center Jade Evans, a 6-footer, has been making steady improvement all season and provides the entire package — scoring, rebounding and shot blocking — off the bench.
Behind those main seven, the Lady Raiders have additional depth, with a total of 12 players on the roster.
In addition, Harrington said, Richmond could be bolstered for the stretch drive by the possible return of senior sparkplug guard Shaquitta Covington, who recently had knee surgery.
Despite the fears of Lady Raider coaches and the Richmond training staff, there was no ligament tear for Covington, Harrington said, and Covington is progressing nicely in her rehab.
A late-season return to the lineup is possible.
After the midweek nonconference tilt with Cheraw, the Lady Raiders will return to SEC competition Friday night at home when Pinecrest comes to town. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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