Although the Richmond Hill girls basketball team were eliminated in the first round the state playoffs in Columbus after a 70-20 loss to Columbus this past Friday, coach Wade Wright said they still have every reason to be proud.
Nobody expected the team to make it this far. Many obstacles were standing in their way, such as a change of coaches mid-season. Even up to the last minute – a bus accident caused their ride to be an hour and a half late picking the team up for Columbus which gave them little time to prep before, jumping into the fire.
"We had enough time to check into the hotel room, get dressed, go to the gym and play, but the team took it in stride," Wright said. "It was a trip to remember, and we had fun with it."
Their opponents, Kendrick, is one of the best teams in the state and have a reputation for aggressive offense. To give you an idea, Kendrick won another recent game with an ending score of 131-5, and they have won four games this year with a 100-plus margin.
This is not to say that there weren’t some high points for the Lady Wildcats. The Cats started out very strong, and they actually out rebounded Kendrick on defense.
Wright and his girls knew the odds coming into Friday’s game, and this particular game is not the story here. Rather it is the team’s rise to the caliber of excellence and arsenal of victories that carried them to state.
"When we went into the region tournament, we didn’t have any expectations, so we really didn’t go into this game feeling any pressure," Wright said. "Our philosophy was we’re going to play hard and see what they throw at us. And if it’s not going our way, we’re still going to play hard. I mean, we’re here. We’re one of 32 teams left. Even in the fourth quarter when it was getting bad, we were laughing on the court about some things."
Wright said that next season’s outlook for Lady Wildcat basketball is looking strong based on the fact that many of the girls will be returning.
"There’s a strong nucleus coming back. You’ve got Tyler Carlson and Colleen Keller coming back in the guard position. We started seeing a lot of good play out of Erin Hefner and Shakeena Durham. Jade Crosby is coming back, who started every game in the second half of the season. There are four are five JV girls that are very talented as well. There will be some subtle differences, but it will be the same basic theme of ‘you’ve got to play all of us’ and good defense."
Wright stressed how much fun he and the girls this past season.
"It’s been a crazy ride," said Wright. "One of the things that I feel are lost in athletics these days is that, with so much pressure for success, sometimes parents, coaches and even kids can’t enjoy the ride. One thing I’ve experienced with this group is that, by being truthful to their capabilities and limitations and understanding what we had to do to just compete, it’s been one the most enjoyable experiences for everyone involved. And that’s what it’s about!"