By Charlie Moon, Lowcountryradio.com.
The 17-3 (9-3) #7 ranked Richmond Hill Men’s team battles host Statesboro at 7:30 p.m. for a Region 2-AAAAAA title and more importantly, home court advantage in the state playoffs.
But after being undefeated at 16-0 and ranked #2 in Class AAAAAA, the Richmond Hill men hit a 2-3 skid to end the regular season. And after being down by 18 at the 3:00 mark at Effingham County in the regular season finale, it looked like the mojo was gone.
There was no offensive rhythm, lack of effort on defense. After a 6-2 half-ending run, something seemed to click. The emotion came back. The fire came back. Sure, they still lost, but the mojo came back.
Fast forward to Tuesday’s Region 2-AAAAAA semi-final. Tuesday, Feb. 16 #7 Richmond Hill 58 #14 Effingham County 55 The Cats came out firing away, to a 31-14 lead by the 5 minute mark in the 2nd quarter. Coach Bill Henderson made a change, by inserting Isiah Allen and Kyle Beckwith into the starting line-up. They gave the Cats an emotional spark by forcing 4 Rebel turnovers in just the first 4 minutes.
That set the tone, enroute to the 17-point lead late in the 1st half. Liam Markgraf was “MIA” during the late-season skid. Who knows if that was crucial or not, since Markgraf is the team’s 4th leading scorer behind Jaden “U.S.” Marshall (15.5), Braden “B-squared” Baker (12.7) and Leighton “Big Dawg” Finley (10.6).
Either way, Markgraf was a beast, checking in with a double-double. He poured in 14 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, made 4 assists and had 4 steals. The win Tuesday night earns Richmond Hill at least a home 1st round playoff game. But, if they win the Region title, they are guaranteed at least 2 home playoff games.
LADIES #7 Brunswick 34 - #11 Richmond Hill-22 -- After falling to Brunswick on Monday, Richmond Hill played Glynn Academy for the No. 3 seed in the state tournament on Wednesday. Coach Sarah Jones talked about staying focused after losing the title shot.
“There is still so much to play for in tonight’s game, so it’s important that we show up and play hard and execute.”