ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond junior varsity girls basketball team, led by first-year head coach Eboni Surgick, has yet to lose a game since dropping its season opener at Purnell Swett.
Receiving strong play from the guard positions has helped the Lady Raiders to a 7-1 overall record and the top seed in the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings with only a few weeks left in the season.
And even though it’s only her first year on the job, Surgick said she expected this kind of success.
“We really should be 8-0,” she said with a laugh. “We were nervous in our first game, but we’ve let that go and have been rolling ever since. I just have a good group with some good athletes and they listen — which is big.”
She may have expected her team to perform well, but Surgick couldn’t have predicted that she would become a head coach so soon after graduating from nearby St. Andrews University, where she played basketball for two seasons (2014-16).
During Surgick’s playing career, her job on the court was to lead the way as the point guard. That meant calling out plays, making sure everyone was in position, seeing the floor, making the right decision, and distributing the ball effectively.
Now, the first-year coach is tasked with sharing what she learned as a player with a group of young ladies who she believes have the potential to do some special things, at the next level, in the coming years.
“I’ve always felt like I just saw things different than everybody. My court vision, I felt like, was always great. And so I feel that I can help mold some of these girls into great players,” Surgick explained.
The JV Lady Raiders’ biggest strength this season has been their ability to score the ball, in huge part to the consistent effort of guards Jasmine Ewing, Jayla McDougald and Bri Wall. Surgick called Ewing “unstoppable,” saying that her strength, rebounding and ability to guard every position on the floor makes her a force night in and night out.
Also, the team has recently seen an emergence from Corey Dawkins, who wasn’t in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season, at the forward position. Dakwins recorded a double-double against Purnell Swett last week.
”They want to play, so they’re out here competing in practice every day. And I feel like if they’re competing, I’ll put them in that starting spot,” Surgick said. “I’m pushing them and cheering them on every single day. I just want them to give it 100 percent and do their best out there.”
With five games left on the schedule, aside from the postponed game versus Lumberton that hasn’t been made up, Surgick wants her team to just focus on getting better every day. There’s no room for complacency in the quest for a conference title.
Richmond will put its seven-game win streak on the line when it hosts Pinecrest on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“We’ve got a bullseye on our back because we’ve beaten everybody (in the conference). So they’re coming for us and we have to realize that and step our game up,” Surgick added.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.
First-year head coach Eboni Surgick, right, talks to freshman guard Jayla McDouglad during Wednesday’s practice at the Ninth-Grade Academy.