ROCKINGHAM — Even though her team is all but guaranteed a spot in next week’s state 4A playoffs, Richmond Senior coach Victoria DeFrate still wants to earn that berth.
The Raiders finished fourth in the Southeastern Conference in the regular season with a 3-7 mark. This would allow the squad to grab the conference’s final automatic bid into the playoffs.
However, the Raiders need to dodge one final bullet before making their travel plans. If either Hoke County or Purnell Swett — which were fifth and sixth, respectively — win the conference tournament, then Richmond would be forced to watch the playoffs from the stands.
“I think there is something to earning it,” DeFrate said. “We want to win tomorrow. We would rather earn it on the court then have to wait to see if Hoke or Swett lose.”
Richmond (6-16) can take Hoke County (5-19) out of the equation with a victory tonight in the first round of the SEC tournament. The Raiders and the Bucks split their season series with each team winning on their home court.
In the first meeting, Richmond limited Hoke to 10 first-half points en route to a 54-31 victory. Shaquail Wall scored a game-high 17 points to lead three Raiders in double figures. Jade Evans added 11 and Kevyna Stanback chipped in with 10. Courtney Pate netted a team-leading seven points for the Bucks, while La’Queria Peterkin finished with six.
Hoke claimed the rematch 53-45 behind Shanice Horne, who scored a game-high 24 points. Brooke McIntosh added seven points in the victory. Wall, once again, led Richmond with 17 points, while Evans knocked in 11.
“When we lost to them the second time, we wanted to play them again,” DeFrate said. “This is kind of like seeing which team really earned the fourth-place seed.”
Purnell Swett (1-20) will travel to Pinecrest (14-8) in the other opening round contest. The Patriots swept the Rams this season, winning 42-9 and 57-32.
Richmond, Pinecrest to meet for third time
ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond Senior boys basketball team will battle Pinecrest for the third time this season in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament 7 p.m. Wednesday at Raider Gymnasium.
Pinecrest, the No. 3 seed, advanced after stopping Purnell Swett 61-48.
The Raiders (17-7) swept the season series with the Patriots. In the first meeting, Trey Pettigrew scored 17 points to lead Richmond to a 78-67 victory. Pettigrew was one of four Raiders in double figures. Jalen McDonald and Josh Calhoun each netted 12, while Shydamion Ellerbe dropped in 11. Justin Ray had a game-high 22 points for Pinecrest in the loss. Adam Cummings notched 18 and Trevron Wooten scored 11.
In the latest contest, Richmond need a fourth-quarter rally to pull out a 49-47 road win over Pinecrest. Ellerbe recorded a double-double — 20 points and 17 rebounds — for the Raiders. Jordan Richardson added 10 in the victory.
Lumberton outlasted Scotland in the other opening round contest, 61-53. Hoke County, the regular season champions, will play host to Lumberton 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Raiders baseball team win two
CAMERON — The Richmond Senior baseball team opened its season with scrimmage victories over Union Pines and Jack Britt.
The Raiders defeated the Vikings 5-3 behind Bradley Brown and Chalin Williamson as both slugged two-run home runs in the four-inning win. Cody Leviner and Brown pitched in the contest for Richmond.
Adam Sweatt had a two-run single to lead the way for the Raiders in a 3-0 victory against the Buccaneers. Nic Bullard, James Buie and Brandon Gibson combined for the five-inning shutout.
Richmond will return to action 5 p.m. Thursday when it travels to Whiteville for another scrimmage contest.
Ellerbe named underrated free agent
BALTIMORE — Adam Schein, a NFL.com columnist, called former Richmond Senior standout Dannell Ellerbe as one of the top underrated free agents this season.
Ellerbe recorded a team-leading nine tackles in the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Schein wrote, “The Baltimore Ravens know how good he is and how good he can be. During the regular season, I thought he played better than Ray Lewis, making him more than ready to replace Lewis full-time as a player on game day. But Baltimore certainly has bigger free-agent fish to fry in Joe Flacco and (potentially) Ed Reed.
If Ellerbe hits the open market, scoop up the inside ‘backer — fast. He’s only scratched the surface.”
— 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.