As far as Coach Sarah Jones is concerned there’s no secret as to what her Richmond Hill girls basketball team has to do if it wants to be a factor in the Region 1-7A race: play four complete quarters.
The Wildcats will not overwhelm anyone on pure talent but they’re more than good enough when playing as a unit to compete with anyone in what is shaping up to be a competitive region.
Last weekend provided two examples of how Richmond Hill can more than hold its own when playing its trademark defense and being patient on offense. It also showed how things can get ugly in a hurry when things get off track.
Richmond Hill, competing in Region 1-7A this year, dropped a 57-36 decision to Valdosta in its region opener but regrouped to come back the next night to beat Colquitt County, 37-36.
The Wildcats (11-4, 1-1) will try to make it two region wins in a row on Friday night when they take on Lowndes County (9-5, 0-0). They will then conclude the home portion of their region schedule next Tuesday when they face Camden County (6-11, 0-2).
“Valdosta is a very, very good team,” Jones said. “One of the things we had talked about when playing good teams was that we can’t have bad spurts.
“Against Valdosta we had two,” Jones said. “The positive was we fought hard. Otherwise, it would not have been a 21-point game. We did it to ourselves.”
Led by 6-foot-4 Essence Cody, a five-star player rated as one of the top five players in the state and a recent signee with Alabama, the visitors jumped out to a 15-8 first quarter lead and led 24-20 at the half.
The Wildcats battled back and eventually got the lead at 29-28 midway through the third quarter only to see it all come apart. Valdosta ended the quarter on a 12-0 run and got the first basket of the fourth to take what appeared to be an insurmountable 42-29 lead.
Richmond Hill then went on a 7-0 run to draw within six points with 4:50 to play only to see the Wildcats close the game on a 15-0 spurt. The two bad stretches saw Richmond Hill outscored 29-0.
Against Colquitt the Wildcats pretty much had their own way until the fourth quarter when they nearly blew a double-digit lead.
“We were up 14-16 points in the third quarter had a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter,” Jones said. “They outscored us 14-5 in the fourth. We just had a lack of execution.
“But we held on at the end when things were not going our way,” Jones said. “We played good for three quarters in both games and then we had bad fourth quarters which almost cost us two games.
“We’ve got to work on consistency and finish. It’s hard to get up for two games back-to-back but the girls came out focused and ready to play on Saturday. If we play consistent for four-quarters we can play with anyone in the region.”