ROCKINGHAM — First-year Richmond Senior coach Victoria DeFrate wasn’t sure how her team was going to react after losing their first game earlier this week.
She quickly found out.
DeFrate has been pleasantly surprised at how her Raiders have responded in practice as they prepare for Saturday’s contest with Marlboro County.
“They now know what they capable of doing out there and when they aren’t doing it,” DeFrate said. “They know when they aren’t moving their feet on defense, helping out on the weakside or they aren’t pushing the ball up the court. I feel like things are coming together nicely.”
Richmond is off to a 2-1 start this season, knocking off South Robeson and Douglas Byrd, before falling to Cheraw, S.C. Tuesday evening.
In each of the three games, a different Raider led the team in scoring. In the season opener, Heaven Smith was the lone player in double figures with 10 points. Against the Eagles, Shaquail Wall netted 16 to pace the Raiders. In the loss at Cheraw, Jade Evans dropped in 14.
Balanced scoring and tough defense is what DeFrate has been preaching since the start of practice. However, she knows in a close game, she will need one or two reliable scorers to come through in the clutch.
“When everything else isn’t working, we have been able to count on Jade and Kayla (Ewing),” DeFrate said. ‘They have been phenomenal and have been taking control when we are off from the outside.”
DeFrate added she wants her team to have more confidence and be aggressive on both ends of the court. At times she feels her players are happy to settle for long-range jump shots.
“We have to drive to the basket more,” she said. “We didn’t get to the free-throw line until the fourth quarter against Cheraw. We weren’t driving at all and I know we are capable of doing it. It’s just part of being a young team.”
The Raiders return just five players from last season’s 16-9 squad. DeFrate thought her team’s inexperience really showed against the Braves.
“They were so physical and pushed us around,” DeFrate said. “A lot of the girls played junior varsity last year and aren’t used to that style of play. They will learn to hold their own.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.