Thursday night at SSU’s Wiley gym, both the girls and boys teams opened the 2007 Savannah Holiday Classic with losses to start the three game tournament for Richmond Hill.
The boys played extremely well against Calvary Day School in the night cap but failed to put them away in the second half and allowed a furious last minute comeback in a 57-56 heartbreaker. The girls lost to undefeated Groves 50-38 in a game that could have been a lot closer if the Lady Wildcats had taken better advantage of a few opportunities late in the game.
In the boys action, Richmond Hill used a tight man defense and some hot shooting to out play Calvary in the first half. Chakiris Moss made two three pointers early and finished the first period with eight of his game high 25 points in the period. Robbie Bynum kept up the pace in the second with seven points.
By halftime, Calvary had seen enough of the Wildcats outside shooting and was ready to abandon their zone defense. They trailed by only seven points, however, and would start their comeback in the third.
Now facing a man defense, the Wildcats started the third period slowly and Calvary’s Cody Padgett started attacking the basket more. The result was Richmond Hill racking up some foul calls. Padgett would finish the game 9 for 9 from the charity stripe to lead the Cavaliers with 23 points. It was just what Wildcat head coach William Altman didn’t need: his opponents scoring points with the clock stopped.
The Wildcats were also committing more turnovers, but every time Calvary closed, the Wildcats answered. The Cats clung to a three point lead at the end of the third. The Cavaliers finally took their first lead of the game with just under two minutes to play on a pair of free throws by Dominique Honfield. Wildcat CJ Bynum would take the lead back a short time later. The Cavaliers answered with a lay up to regain it. Finally, Richmond Hill would get their final possession on Calvary’s turnover with fifteen seconds remaining, but another call near mid court with Moss dribbling the ball turned the ball back over with just five seconds left.
For the girls, Lady Cat Tyler Carlson hit three of her five three-pointers in the game’s final period to lead all scorers with 25 points but, in the end, was unable to counter an excess of turnovers and missed free throws by her team to make a big enough difference.
"Honestly we expect to have turnovers against athletic teams like this," head coach Elizabeth Bennett said. "We hope they happen on our end of the floor and don’t cost us points, but we can not afford to miss our free throws."
Particularly critical was a personal and technical foul called against the Lady Rebels in the third period that would have given Richmond Hill a chance to pull close with four straight free throws and possession. Instead, the ladies managed just one free throw and turned the ball back over to Groves. What could have been a game changing momentum swing instead turned into a ten point bulge very quickly. Bennett was pleased with her defense.
Groves Taquandra Mike has been the Lady Rebel’s floor leader during their 2007 run, but Richmond Hill’s duo of Jannelle McKinney and Kourtney Myers took turns dogging her around the court while the rest of the team played zone. The box-and-one strategy helped hold Mike to just 10 points, but, to their credit, the Lady rebels spreaded the wealth to eight other players including 11 points by Briana Smalls.
Both the boys and girls will play today out of the losers bracket at either Savannah Country Day or Wiley Gym depending on Friday’s results. The potential match ups could see the boys playing either Savannah Country Day for the third time this season or Midland Valley. The girls will face either region foe St. Vincent’s or Windsor Forest. Look for the conclusion in the next issue.