FAIRMONT — Defense has been the hallmark for the Richmond Senior girls this season.
During its three-game winning streak the Raiders have limited their opponents to single-digit scoring in nine of the 12 quarters.
In its Robeson County Shootout semifinal matchup with Red Springs, Richmond was even better.
It held Red Springs to seven points or less in all four periods to breeze to a 61-24 victory Friday night at Fairmont High School.
“We played awesome defense tonight,” Richmond coach Victoria DeFrate said. “It really helped us on offense.”
Even as the Raiders were slowing down the Red Devils’ offensive attack, they needed to create points off their full-court pressure. Shaquail Wall sparked a 11-0 run midway through the first quarter as Richmond built a 12-point lead.
Things got worse for Red Springs in the second frame as its only points came on a 3-point field goal by Rocio Pecina at the 6:41 mark. Richmond was able to take advantage and extended its lead to 29-10 at halftime.
Red Springs coach Steven Sinclair said his choice in defense played a critical role in allowing Richmond to build its sizable lead. Sinclair added he was afraid of Richmond’s size on the inside, especially Jade Evans.
“We talked as coaches from switching to an extended 3-2 zone,” he said. “We were sitting back in our 2-3 zone and being very disciplined and not gambling, but we allowed them a lot of open shots. We played Terry Sanford and they have a girl that is 6-2 or 6-3 and they beat us with the lob. We didn’t want to get beat by the lob again.”
Despite being the focus of attention from the Red Springs defense, Evans scored all eight of her points in the first half. With the attention turned to Evans, Wall was able to rattle in two 3-pointers en route to scoring a game-high 14 points.
Richmond (5-1) has reeled off four straight wins and will face off with Dillon (S.C.) in the title game 6 p.m. today at the English E. Jones Center on the UNC Pembroke campus. Dillon knocked off Lumberton 47-36 to advance. Red Springs and Lumberton will square off at 2 p.m. in the third-place contest.
“We are excited to be in the championship,” DeFrate said. “We are more concerned about we we do than about what Dillon is going to do. If we do what we’re supposed to do, I think we will definitely be in the game.”
— 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.