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The beat goes on in this banner year for Lady Wildcats
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Everywhere you look, it's been a banner year for the girls' basketball program at Richmond Hill High School.
The team's 24-2 record is likely the best in the program's history. The Lady Wildcats' 18-game win streak is also a school record. And the squad's 59-50 victory over No. 2-ranked Statesboro clinched Richmond Hill just its third girls' region title and first since 2004, and it allows the girls to host a state playoff game Friday for the first time.
There's more. After spending much of the season under the radar, the Lady Wildcats are ranked No. 7 in Class AAAA in the latest Georgia poll.
Not bad for a team in only its second year in AAAA.
"I am so proud of my girls and my staff," said fifth-year coach Elizabeth Bennett, who should be a shoo-in for Region 2-AAAA coach of the year honors - especially if voters award style points for what seems to be some pretty good prognostication.
"Last year when Coach (William) Altman and I nominated our school to be the host of the (Region 2-AAAA) tournament, I had a final game in mind and it included us and Statesboro and I feel very lucky that it turned out that way," Bennett said in an email.
Some say revenge is a dish best served cold. But the Lady Wildcats were anything but cold in Saturday's game against the Lady Blue Devils - who were one of two teams to top Richmond Hill in the regular season, beating Richmond Hill 70-40 on Nov. 22.
Saturday's rematch was described as a highlight reel.
"I thought the (championship) game was just plain old good basketball," Bennett said. "We were excited to play Statesboro because we thought they might underestimate us from our loss early in the season.  I had three starters out that game and we were still working out some kinks so I felt confident that this time we could make it a game."
The Lady Wildcats, led by Wofford signee Aliyah Johnson and a rotating cast of stellar performers, spent some time after the game celebrating Saturday's win, Bennett said, but "the next day I made them watch film online on our next opponent so the celebration was quick."
That's because, now, of course, bigger fish wait their chance to be fried. First up is Bainbridge (16-11) from Region 1-AAAA.
Not surprisingly, the Lady Wildcats are doing their homework. After all, Richmond Hill High School prides itself on its academics.
"We are a team that prepares," Bennett said. "My staff, players and I are film crazy. We love to watch our opponents so we are going to prepare the best we can. They are athletic and aggressive, but hopefully our home court advantage will give us an edge."
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at RHHS.


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