RAEFORD — So much for holding your own destiny in the palms of your hands.
In a must-win contest, Hoke County pulled out a 53-45 victory over Southeastern Conference foe Richmond Senior behind Shanice Horne’s game-high 24 points.
The victory improves the Bucks to 4-15 on the season and 1-4 in the SEC, while Richmond falls to 4-13 and 2-4. Hoke still has two games remaining with Purnell Swett, the lone winless school in conference play.
“We knew how big tonight’s game was,” Hoke coach Derek Butler said. “We knew if we lost, then control was out of our hands. It was a tough win. We have a chance now to stay even with Richmond.”
In the teams’ first contest of the season, a 54-31 Richmond win, Butler brought Horne off the bench because of her up-and-down play. Horne, like the rest of the Bucks that night, struggled scoring one point.
The second time around, Butler saw a “more aggressive” Horne. The junior scored seven of the Bucks’ final eight points, including a 3-pointer from the left wing after the Raiders had trimmed a 20-point deficit to two with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
“We are so young. The girls believed in what we wanted to do tonight,” Butler said. “I think being at home helped us hit some shots. That was how I want to see Shanice play. She was aggressive and drove to the basket.”
Richmond coach Victoria DeFrate thought the contest was a throwback to earlier in the season when the Raiders lost 10 in a row before entering conference play.
“It’s more of the same problem — turnovers, missed foul shots and missed layups,” DeFrate said. “We still can’t put four quarters together.”
Richmond, who was led by Shaquail Wall’s 17 points and Jade Evans with 11, will return to action 6 p.m. Tuesday when it plays host to Purnell Swett. The Raiders knocked off the Rams 65-50 in the first meeting on Jan. 4.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.