By Charlie Moon, Lowcountryradio.com.
I didn’t do the Tootsie Roll, but the Richmond Hill basketball is rolling right along. The Cats are making history. Never before has the men and ladies teams had more wins at this point in the season, than the 27 combined wins have right now. The undefeated men are ranked No. 2 in the state at 15-0 (7-0), while the ladies are 12-3 (5-2) and ranked No. 14.
Richmond Hill men 53, Effingham Co. 36 -- The last two games have been scares from the two Effingham County schools. Effingham showed fire and guts after the Wildcats raced out to a 15-8 first quarter lead with a stifling defense and 9 points off turnovers. Leighton Finley was a beast all night long with 17 rebounds – not a misprint. That board dominance and consistent defensive pressure was the key, because the Rebels are loaded with young talent. But the Rebels fought back to make it only a 5 point deficit at the half, 26-21. The 3rd quarter saw another relentless defensive effort, forcing 6 turnovers and stretching it to a double-digit lead, 40-30.
Leading the way on offense was Jaden Marshall and Braden Baker, with 12 and 10 respectively. The 53-36 final does not do it justice. Effingham has tons of young talent and it showed. They caused problems for the Wildcat offense all night long. But the Cats proved their undefeated record and No. 2 ranking is no fluke. The Rebels hung in their al night and they brought many Rebel faithful. It was a frustrating night offensively, as the Cats only shot 36% from the field.
But, they also forced the Rebels to shoot a lowly 24%, while forcing 18 turnovers. That was the mainstay.
Richmond Hill men 60, S. Effingham 55 -- Tuesday night saw South Effingham with an even bigger scare to the Cats unblemished mark. Leading scorer Jaden Marshall (15.5/g) was out (unspecified) and it showed for three quarters. South Effingham led by as much as 6. There were 17 lead changes. The only offensive consistency came from Junior Braden Baker. LCR Intern Jesus Jimenez said this in the tipoff show.
“Jaden is out, but Braden’s gonna have to be the one to pick up the slack” And he did, to the tune of 20 points. Baker’s most deadly attribute is his versatility. He can do a little of everything, from anywhere. The team’s second leading scorer, he shoots 41% from the floor and is just as dangerous inside as outside. His added offseason bulk has made him a force down low as well, averaging 6 rebounds per game.
With the absence of Marshall, though, the Cats lacked offensive flow – until late in the 3rd quarter when Nijuan Youmans and Liam Markgraf poured in 9 quick points, led by forced turnovers from Isiah Allen and Myles Holmes. It’s as if the burble burst for the Cats. They opened up an 11-point lead. The Mustangs dropped in a couple late 3s to muddy up the score, akin to a late TD drive in trash time of a blowout game.
That said, for three quarters, LCR Color man Brock Vaigneur said it best, “There’s no excitement on the floor. These Rebels are outing it to us and we’re not showing emotion.”
In the end, though, the Cats found their groove.
After suffering just their 2nd and 3rd losses, the Lady Cats got back on track with 2 wins.
Friday, Jan 15 -- Richmond Hill ladies 59, Effingham Co 17 -- Honestly, the score says it all. It was over before it began. Probably the best thing, was that Head Coach Sarah Jones pretty much unloaded the bench after just 90 seconds. Players like Savannah Gravitt, Jahzara Elm, Haley Everett and Kaden Lawrence all got more playing time than they have all season. Kudos to Coach Jones recognizing the mismatch and giving bench players quality minutes all night long, instead of the final 90 seconds.
Tuesday, January 20 -- Richmond Hill ladies 53, South Effingham 32 -- Although not as ugly a final, this one was pretty much over when it started as well. The Cats raced out to a 12-3 score at the end of the 1st quarter. Effingham never got closer than that.
Kyra Finley led the way with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Asked about her performance Kyra was quick to credit others.
“Our coaches always do a great job of putting us in the right places and my teammates did a great job of letting me go tonight. I had a matchup advantage down low and took advantage of it.”
Upcoming: Friday, January 22 at 5:30 at Benedictine. LCR Tipoff Show at 5:15. Tuesday, January 26 at 6:00, Home vs. Glynn Academy.