ROCKINGHAM — As a sophomore Shaquail Wall watched as others took the big shots.
What a difference a year makes because after deferring to former teammates Tiara Ellerbe and Malaysia Bloomfield, Wall is now the one who wants the ball in her hands at crunch time.
“I’m not scared to shoot now,” Wall said. “They were older than me and they had their spots. Now I’m a junior, I’m ahead of some other people and I want to keep my spot.”
Wall has provided a steady influence on a Richmond Senior team which has experienced several ups-and-downs so far this season. The Raiders started the year with a two-game winning streak before dropping their next nine contests.
“We kept saying it’s not conference games and we can always make it up in conference,” Wall said.
After rebounding to open Southeastern Conference play with two straight victories, Richmond fell to 4-10 on the season and 2-1 in the SEC with a 58-43 loss at Lumberton.
Wall led the team in scoring with 14 despite being held scoreless in the second half as the Pirates used a 15-0 run to close out the game.
“I started to get frustrated because my shots weren’t falling,” Wall said. “Everybody started to get frustrated and instead of taking good shots, we started getting turnovers.”
Richmond coach Victoria DeFrate was impressed with the way Wall kept her composure during her second-half struggles against Lumberton. DeFrate didn’t see Wall force any shots and continued to play within the team’s offense.
“She knows the game…and knows her role,” DeFrate said. “Plus, she knows when to take her shots. This all comes with experience.
“She’s a leader by example. She’s not the loudest, but she calmly takes control of the team.”
Wall and the Raiders will return to the court Friday against SEC foe Pinecrest. This will be the second meeting between the two teams. The first came in the Holiday in the Pines Tournament before Christmas when the Patriots posted a 47-35 victory. Pinecrest is currently 8-6 overall and 1-1 in league play heading into tonight’s game with Scotland.
“We know what we had to work on after they beat us,” Wall said. “I think we have improved since then.”
— 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.