WADESBORO — With the Southeastern Conference schedule set to begin Friday, Josh Calhoun thinks his team is starting to hit its stride.
Richmond Senior only won one game in the annual Holiday in the Pines Tournament last week, but that wasn’t what was important. The big event during the tournament was the return of Calhoun following his offseason knee surgery.
After admitting he struggled in his return, Calhoun showed glimpse of his old form in scoring 16 points in helping the Raiders hold off Anson in a hard-fought 83-73 victory Wednesday night.
“I think the three games at the Pinecrest tournament built me up,” Calhoun said. “If I’m going to hurt it again, it’s just going to happen. It’s the last thing on my mind now.”
Richmond coach David Laton believes Calhoun will fill a role the team was lacking during his absence.
“I think Josh is back,” Laton said. “He’s starting to be the leader we need.”
Calhoun added his teammates rely on him for leadership and tries to be a coach on the court.
“They look up to me and I look up to them,” Calhoun said. “In the fourth quarter, I try to be the leader.”
Against the Bearcats, Calhoun stepped forward in the final eight minutes. Calhoun scored six and had a handful assists to turnback a late-game rally from the home team.
Bunyon Tyson put Anson on his back in the fourth quarter, scoring 19 of his game-high 32 points in the period. Tyson netted eight straight points at one stretch to slice a 15-points deficit to six points with 3:35 remaining in the game.
Calhoun responded with an off-balance layup on Richmond’s ensuing possession and Shydamion Ellerbe added two free throws nearly a minute later as the Raiders stemmed the Bearcats’ momentum.
“If someone gets 32 and we win, I’m OK with it,” Laton said. “I thought we rebounded really well tonight,” Laton said. “Usually I think we can do a better job, but tonight we rebounded really well. I think we had something like eight straight offensive rebounds.”
Ellerbe finished with a team-high 29 points for the Raiders (10-3).
Richmond will return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Purnell Swett in the SEC opener for both teams. The game was scheduled for Jan. 15, but a conflict with its testing scheduled forced Purnell Swett to request to reschedule the contest.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.