ROCKINGHAM — After playing what seems like a football schedule — two games in two weeks — the Richmond Senior basketball teams will return to action tonight.
In their last contest, the boys fell to Southeastern Conference favorite Hoke County 80-72, while the girls extended their winning streak to two games with a 54-31 victory. The boys are now 11-4 on the season and 1-1 in SEC action, while the girls improved to 4-9 overall and 2-0 in the league.
Now the squads will head east to take on Lumberton, where it’s been a tale of two different teams — one looking to maintain their winning ways, the other searching for consistency.
“We had to come from behind against Pinecrest,” Lumberton girls coach Danny Graham said. “We didn’t play well in the first three quarters, but we played well in the fourth.”
Lumberton (11-3, 1-0 SEC) was able to escape Southern Pines with a 47-42 victory. Keanna McNeill scored a team-high 14 points to lead the way for the Pirates, while Asaya Graham added 10.
“We’ve been pretty good inside and outside this season,” Danny Graham said. “We’re a transition team, if we can get out and run and trap we will be OK.”
McNeill leads Lumberton with a 14.2 points per game average, while Aliyah Ratley is contributing 11 points per outing. Asaya Graham, who was forced to take over the point guard duties after an injury to Destiny McCoy, is averaging 9.4 points.
“This can set the tone for us in conference play if we come out with a win,” Richmond coach Victoria DeFrate said. “This is going to be a big test for us because Lumberton and Scotland are considered the best in the conference. How we do against Lumberton will determine where we are in conference.”
On the boys side, first-year coach Mackie Register is searching to find the chemistry to get his team going in conference play. The Pirates dropped their SEC opener to the Patriots 62-47 to fall to 5-9 overall.
“That was the worst game we played all year,” Register said. “We’re not very consistent right now.”
Register points out only two of his players are scoring in double figures, Montrae Strother and Demetri Sheridan, while his next leading scorer is averaging 4.9 points a game.
“That’s all we’re getting,” Register said about Strother and Sheridan. “Plus, we haven’t shot it well from the outside.”
Despite the nine losses, Register is optimistic about his team’s ability to battle for a postseason berth because of the schedule’s difficulty. Lumberton has lost to Seventy-First, South View and Fairmont twice and those schools are a combined 38-6 this season.
“Seventy-First is like Hoke and South View is long like Richmond,” Register said.
Richmond coach David Laton said the Raiders “don’t overlook any team” but have been focused on self-improvement since the loss to the Bucks.
“We need to play to our potential and do what we do well,” Laton said. “We need to concentrate on ourselves.”
After the Raiders visit, the Pirates will welcome the Bucks Tuesday night in a rescheduled contest.
“Pinecrest, Richmond and Hoke…that’s a tough way to start the conference,” Register said. “The good news is two of the three are at home and we seem to play better at home.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.