ROCKINGHAM — As Scotland raced out to score the game’s first 10 points, Richmond Senior coach Nellie Harrington’s thoughts flashed back to Wednesday’s 38-point loss to Anson.
Instead of getting a repeat performance, Tiara Ellerbe and the Raiders responded.
Ellerbe scored a game-high 24 points to help Richmond snap Scotland’s nine-game Southeastern Conference winning streak in a 55-42 win Friday night at Raider Gymnasium.
The victory allowed the Raiders to finish alone in second behind the Fighting Scots in the SEC standings and earn a first-round bye in next week’s conference tournament. Richmond will face the winner of the Purnell Swett-Hoke County game at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“All I was thinking was we aren’t going to have another game like that,” Harrington said. “We could not have repeat performance.”
After falling behind by 10, Richmond scored the final six points of the opening quarter, which Harrington thought gave her team momentum going into the second period.
“That was really big,” Harrington said. “We really started off cold. I told them they needed to run around or do something and get warm because if they didn’t, Scotland would have run us out of the gym. Once we settled down and got into our offense it was easy.”
Ellerbe added: “We knew we just had to play our game. We had to think like it was 0-0.”
Richmond found its rhythm and took the lead for good on reserve Kayla Ewing’s jumper at the 3:39 mark of the second quarter. The Raiders (15-7, 7-3) extended the advantage to as much as 10 points before settling for a 24-20 halftime lead.
In the second half, Richmond continue to maintain a double-figure advantage until Scotland made a run to open the fourth quarter. The Fighting Scots chipped the lead down to four before Ellerbe responded.
Ellerbe scored four of the Raiders’ next six points to push the lead back out to nine.
“Coach told me to drive to the basket and either look for someone cutting or take it myself,” Ellerbe said.
Scotland (16-6, 9-1) kept hanging around until coach David Johnson was whistled for a technical foul with 2:06 left in the contest. Ellerbe hit both free throws and Kivana Keane hit a runner on the baseline to give the Raiders a four-point possession to ice the game and clinch the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament.
The Richmond junior varsity team closed out its season with a 53-29 win over Scotland. The victory improved the Raiders to 13-5 overall and tied for first in the SEC with a 8-2 record.
Asiana Douglas led the way with 12 points, while Cherie Ellerbe scored 10.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org