ROCKINGHAM — The ball slipped through several pairs of hands before Richmond Senior’s Shaquail Wall was able to secure it.
Once she did, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with it — put it through the basket.
Wall connected on the go-ahead 3-point field goal from the top of the key as Richmond rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit to defeat Cheraw (S.C.) 53-52 Tuesday night. It was the first game of the season for both schools.
“I just wanted to score,” Wall said. “I really wasn’t thinking, I just shot it.”
Wall’s basket pushed the Raiders in front 49-48 with 1:04 remaining in the game and was the team’s first lead since the first quarter.
“It’s my senior year and I want to go out with a bang,” said Wall, who scored a game-high 23 points. “Everybody came together tonight. This year we care more. Last year we would get down and we kinda gave up.”
Richmond stretched its advantage to 51-48 on Jade Evans’ layup with 27 seconds left and then needed to hold on.
Cheraw’s Ladaisha Jackson drained on a long-range jumper from the right wing, but her foot was inside the 3-point line to trim the deficit to 51-50.
The Braves fouled Kivana Keane with 11.7 seconds left in the contest and the senior connected on both of her free throws to push the advantage back to three. After a timeout, Cheraw’s Myesha Harley was able to get open against the Richmond press. Instead of attempting a game-tying 3-pointer, Harley hit a 15-foot jumper and made it 53-52 with 4.2 remaining.
Keane got the in-bound pass and was able to dribble out the clock to preserve Richmond’s victory.
Richmond coach Victoria DeFrate said some members of her team told her before taking the court they were nervous.
“It was first-game jitters and I thought we settled down,” DeFrate said. “It’s Dec. 3 and we’re playing our first game.”
The Braves fell behind by eight in the first quarter before rallying to tie the game as the Raiders went cold from the field. Richmond was held scoreless in the final 3:11 of the period.
The Raiders also struggled to find the range in the second quarter, going nearly four minutes without a point and went into halftime trailing by 10 points.
“We wanted to give everybody a chance to play and prove themselves,” DeFrate said. “Others are more experienced than the others in a tight game and that is who is going to not throw the ball away at the end of a game.”
Richmond will return to action against Marlboro County (S.C.) 6 p.m. Friday in Raider Gymnasium.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.