ROCKINGHAM — When the final horn sounded Friday night, the Richmond Senior girls basketball team for the first time in 35 days walked off the court with a victory.
In between the Raiders’ 62-25 win over Douglas Byrd on Nov. 30 and the 65-50 victory over Southeastern Conference foe Purnell Swett Friday, the team lost nine straight contests. Some were close — four by less than six points — the rest had coach Victoria DeFrate searching for answers and wondering if they would ever come.
“After every game I kept saying it was going to come together eventually,” DeFrate said.
To secure a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season, Richmond has to finish in the top four in the league during the regular season or win the conference tournament if it were to fail to reach that benchmark.
With the win, Richmond now has a one-game advantage over Purnell Swett in the race for the playoffs, while Lumberton and Scotland are expected to battle for the league’s top spot. Even though the Rams are mired in an eight-game losing streak heading into their contest Monday against St. Pauls, DeFrate believes Friday’s win can get her team pointed in the right direction.
“It shows we can be competitive in the conference, that’s what matters,” DeFrate said. “We are taking it day by day and right now we are focused on Hoke. It doesn’t matter what the records are going into the game because all that matters is what happens during it. We’re not even thinking about Lumberton or Scotland.”
After struggling for most of the season dealing with the aftereffects on her offseason knee surgery, Kivana Keane showed flashes of her former self with four points in a first-quarter run which catapulted the Raiders to a 14-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. In addition, Shaquail Wall continued her steady play, netting a team-high 15 points.
“I think the win was a big boost for everyone,” DeFrate said. “I think everybody I played scored. It was a good all-around team effort.”
The Raiders will welcome the Bucks 6 p.m. Friday in what was originally slated to be the SEC opener for both schools. Instead it will be the first conference contest for the visitors and the second for Richmond.
Raiders take 4th in wrestling tournament
LELAND — The Richmond Senior wrestling team captured fourth place in the North Brunswick Scorpion Invitational last weekwend.
The Raiders were paced by Devontae Watkins, who finished first in the 145-pound division. Watkins won all three of his contests by pinfall.
Dominique Everette and Jacob Staub took second in the 132- and 182-pound class, respectively. Both were victorious in their first two matches by pinfall before falling in the title contest. Everette was pinned by Triton’s Hunter Young, while Staub lost to Cape Fear’s Conrad McKoy by decision. Deion Davis, Douglas Scott and David Watkins were third in their divisions.
The Raiders will return to the mats 6 p.m. Wednesday in their first home match of the season against Southeastern Conference foe Hoke County.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.