Richmond Hill High School’s basketball season isn’t over yet.
The Wildcats (10-15) stayed alive in the Region 3-AAAAA tournament with a 64-58 win over Glynn Academy on Thursday night at Effingham County High School.
The win advanced Richmond Hill to the region semifinals, where they took on top-seeded Effingham County on Friday night. More importantly, it ensured the Wildcats a trip to the state Class AAAAA basketball tournament.
Not bad for a first-year head coach and a team that lost five starters from last season.
"It’s a huge compliment to this group," coach William Henderson said. "They worked hard this summer, they played hard this year and got after it at practice. And they put a great game together tonight when they needed it the most."
Richmond Hill was the No. 5 seed headed into the region tournament and faced Glynn Academy, the No. 4 seed and a squad which had twice beaten the Wildcats during the regular season.
The third time would prove to be a charm for Richmond Hill, though it got interesting after the Wildcats nearly ran the Red Terrors out of the gym early on.
Richmond Hill built leads as large as 16 points in the first quarter, but the Wildcats took nearly six minutes of the second quarter to find a basket as Glynn pulled to within 31-21 at halftime.
The Red Terrors also put together a furious fourth-quarter surge, cutting the Wildcats lead to four with 3:35 left, then clawed to within 60-58 with 9.1 seconds on the clock.
But Jeremiah Hill, who finished with a game-high 26 points, nailed two free throws and Nick Fitzgerald scored on a layup off a Glynn turnover to seal the win.
"I’m just happy for the kids," said Henderson, a former Wildcat player himself. "It’s all about them. They put all the hard work in, they believed in what we’re trying to do. They went out there tonight and made it a little interesting in the end, but they got it done."
Fitzgerald finished with 12 points for the Wildcats while Daniel Wilder added 10 and Kameron Myers chipped in seven. Ian Chandler had three points and Wallace Smith, Terence McCall and Cayman Cardiff added two points apiece to help Richmond Hill earn its second appearance in the state playoffs in three seasons.
If the Wildcats beat Effingham County on Friday night, they will play at 8 p.m. tonight in the region title game. If the Wildcats fell to Effingham they will play in the consolation game at 5 p.m. today.