Richmond Hill went into its weekend Region 1-7A series with Lowndes County and Colquitt County looking for a much needed sweep and at worst a split.
The Wildcats wound up getting the split with the win coming against Colquitt, the one team of the two they could least afford to lose to.
Coach Bill Henderson’s team followed up a poor shooting night against the Vikings with a gritty finish to post a 48-46 win over Colquitt on Saturday to all but assure themselves of having a region tournament game at home.
On Friday night Lowndes hit a total of eight three-pointers, five in the first quarter, to jump start its way to a 57-37 win. The Vikings closed the first half on a 14-2 run to expand a 17-9 first quarter lead to 34-15 at the break.
Lowndes (7-9, 2-2) then pushed the margin to 44-17, its biggest lead, midway through the third quarter and the Wildcats (3-17, 2-3) were never able to get the deficit under 20 as they simply couldn’t get the ball to fall.
Although his team had beaten Colquitt a week ago, Henderson still wasn’t sure what to expect when his team took on the Packers in a game that could very well determine where it would play its first round region tournament game, either at home or on the road in the region’s play-in game.
It looked like it was going to be another long night when the Packers led by as many as 10-points in the first half but somehow the Wildcats managed to flip a switch which left Henderson encouraged about the final six games of the season.
“This puts us in good position for that four seed in the region tournament and still leaves an opening for the three seed but we would need some help,” Henderson said. “This game (Colquitt) was back and forth the entire game.
“We had another tough night shooting the ball and although we trailed by as much as 10 points in the first half the guys kept fighting and found a way in the end,” Henderson said. “I was really proud of how the guys responded, especially late.
“Coming off Friday night where we didn’t play anywhere near what we were expecting and then falling behind early it would have been easy to just give in and feel like it wasn’t our night.”
Junior guard Josh Scott, who leads the Wildcats in scoring, had one of the best nights of his career, as he scored 23 points and it was his free throw shooting in the fourth quarter that helped hold the Packers at bay. With the game on the line, he made all eight of his fourth quarter free throw attempts.
Derrick Lum had six points, six rebounds and four blocked shots and it was the 6-foot-5 junior’s dunk off a pass from senior Braylon Hayes with three minutes left to put Richmond Hill up to stay at 43-42.
“We came out with great energy in the fourth quarter,” Henderson said. “We executed on offense, got stops on the defensive end when we had to have them.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to carry those positives into the last few region games and tournament time.”
Should the Wildcats wind up finishing fourth in the regular season race they would host the fifth-place team, presumably Colquitt, with a berth in the Class 7A state tournament on the line.
Scott and Jordan David had seven points each against Lowndes while Zion Flash added five. Scott and David had one three-pointer each, the only shots the Wildcats made from behind the arc although they put up several attempts.
Richmond Hill’s three remaining region games are at Valdosta on Jan. 26, at home against Camden County on Jan. 30 and at Lowndes on Feb. 2.
Going into this week Camden (16-4, 4-0) held down first-place in the region followed by Valdosta (15-5, 2-1), Lowndes, Richmond Hill and Colquitt.