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Girls' basketball: Wildcats coach wants to see stronger offense
Coach Sarah Jones cites 'offensive struggles' as an issue holding back the Wildcats in their region title race.

Sarah Jones has no complaints about her team’s defense, but the Richmond Hill girls’ basketball coach would like to see more offensive punch.

Offensive struggles and better ball protection are the only things, Jones said, that is keeping the Wildcats from contending for a Region 1-7A title.

After being swept at home last weekend by Lowndes County and Colquitt County the Wildcats (13-7, 1-4) find themselves in a battle to finish in fourth-place in the five-team region which would give them the home court advantage in a play-in game.

With three region games remaining, starting with a trip to Valdosta on Friday night, finishing third–which would mean an automatic berth in the GHSA Class 7A state playoffs–is looking to be out of reach.

Heading into the closing weeks of the regular season Lowndes (13-3, 4-0) held down first followed by Camden County (17-4, 3-1), Colquitt (15-3, 2-2), Richmond Hill and Valdosta (14-6, 0-3).

A win at Valdosta would assure Richmond Hill of a fourth-place finish and give the team home court advantage in the play-in game which would presumably be against Valdosta.

Richmond Hill’s lone region win came against Valdosta, 41-37, earlier at home. The Wildcats’ remaining region games are at home against Camden County on Jan. 30 and at Lowndes on Feb. 2.

Jones said if her team is going to win it is going to have to shoot much better than it did in losing to Lowndes, 57-38, and to the Packers, 39-29.

“We’re competing in every game,” Jones said. “It’s not them beating us, but us beating us. That’s good and bad. It’s good because we can work on us, but it’s bad because we’re beating ourselves by not hitting shots and going 16-29 from the free throw line [against Lowndes] and having to play the foul game at the end.

“We’re also turning the ball over too many times and giving them (opponents) too many opportunities.”

The axiom in basketball is to win at home and split on the road. Do that and you’ll be in contention for a championship. But losing twice at home last weekend has put the Wildcats in a hole and it was largely due to an inability to generate a consistent offense.

May Inyang scored 15 points and MaKiyah Matthews added 12 to lead the effort against Lowndes who came out hot and jumped to a 17-11 first period lead. However, while the Vikings were scoring another 17 in the second quarter the Wildcats could generate only six.

“Every other quarter we were in double figures,” Jones said. “We had that bad quarter and the way we were shooting we couldn’t make it up.

“If we make a few more shots, make a few more stops we get a win,” Jones said. “We just need to make the mid-range and outside shots.”

The Wildcats led Colquitt, 24-23, going into the fourth quarter only to go stone cold and see the Packers wind up winning going away.

“We struggled shooting and taking care of the ball,” Jones said. “We only shot 22.9 percent and had 23 turnovers. All of our points came in either the lane or at the free throw line. Holding a team like Colquitt to 39 points is really good but we can’t give them extra possessions and win those games.”

Inyang led the Wildcats against Colquitt with eight points to go with four rebounds. Jada Brown had six points and four rebounds, Emari Brown added five along with five rebounds and four blocked shots. Cullen McCormick had a team high six rebounds.

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