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 adage of “you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a boat,” applied to Purnell Swett in its Southeastern Conference girls basketball tournament semifinal matchup with Richmond Senior.
The Rams didn’t only go cold from the field, they were down right icy.
Purnell Swett went nearly 17 1/2 minutes without a basket and Richmond took advantage of the poor shooting to advance to the SEC championship contest with a 66-57 victory.
“We were just flat and I don’t know why,” said Purnell Swett’s Laura Bird, who scored a game-high 28 points. “Coach (Danyel Locklear) had us practice plays, so we didn’t practice hard yesterday. We just went into a slump. We didn’t realize we needed to step up until it was too late.”
Richmond’s Tiara Ellerbe nearly matched Bird point for point. The senior guard scored 24 in the win. Ellerbe was the lone Raider in double figures.
Even though it was unable to hit from the field, Purnell Swett kept the game relatively in check with Richmond at the free-throw line. The Rams attempted 52 free throws, connecting on 28.
“That was the difference right there — free throws — otherwise, it’s not close,” Richmond Senior coach Nellie Harrington said. “I was really surprised Purnell Swett came out flat like that. I really thought they were going to come out strong. They seemed out of sorts.”
The Rams’ last bucket before their two-plus quarter drought came at the 3:28 mark of the first quarter when Bird scored on a putback. It ended when Kayla Lewis converted a layup with 2:07 remaining in the third. Lewis finished with 21 points and combined with Bird to score 24 of Purnell Swett’s 28 points in the final period.
After Bird hit one of two free throws to open the scoring in the second quarter, the Rams were held scoreless over the next 7 1/2 minutes as the Raiders extended a one-point lead to 14 at halftime.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com