Richmond Hill Rec Department coach Darrell Thomas traded in one coaching hat for another this past Saturday. Some may remember him from the latter part of 2023 as the football coach who had the only 12u Richmond Hill football team in the Divisional Playoffs.
“While I did not like the way the season ended for football, I am excited about this basketball season,” Hawks head coach Darrell Thomas said. “I have a few familiar faces on my team and hope to make a Divisional Playoff run in basketball as well.”
But with only two allotted practices before the first game of the season, the Richmond Hill Rec 14u Hawks basketball team lost their game at home against the Richmond Hill Rec 14u Raptors, 56-28.
“Having only a couple of practices before the first game hurt us,” Thomas said. “We have to find a way to be able to get more practice with these guys so that we can help to develop them on and off the court.”
Both teams were looking for the bragging rights of having the opening victory of the 2024 basketball season. The Raptors came in with one of the best teams in the league, and from the opening tip-off, that was evident.
The first half of the game stayed close, including the first period, where the Raptors lead was only 16-12. Jr Rowland found Justice Thomas on back to back plays for assists, and the defense of the Hawks allowed them to keep the first period close.
“It is a good thing that those two guys are close,” Thomas said. “They have a good relationship with one another and they are close friends, so that allows for them to be in tune with one another. I think that helped us in the first half a great deal.”
At the half, the Raptors would extend their lead to 30-18, as they went on a 14-6 run against the Hawks, keeping their scoring at bay, while also building upon their already established lead.
While the Hawks trailed, a positive from the first half was that Thomas dominated for the Hawks, scoring 10 of his 12 total points, and helping to keep the game in a much more manageable state.
“I am pleased with the way he played,” Thomas said. “There were some things to clean up with his game, but he played with great effort in the first half. I feel like we need to get more out of him in the second half so we can finish better.”
Out of the break, the Raptors continued their dominance in the game, as they would go on a quick 8-0 run before the Hawks could make a stop and put some points on the board as well. The Raptors would finish the period ahead 40-22, outsourcing the Hawks 10-4 heading into the final period.
The game would not change much, as the Raptors would finish on a 16-6 run to end the final period, and secure their first victory of the season. Justice Thomas finished with 12 points, Noah Suggs would add 6, Jaydon Shaffer and Jordan Johnson had 4 apiece, Noah Brooks and 2 and Jr Rowland would finish with 6 assists.
“Overall, our guys gave great effort, but we just have to get back into the gym,” Thomas said. “I am hoping we can get more practice in than we have and try to get some conditioning in for the guys. I think that will help us.”
The Richmond Hill Hawks will take on the Celtics on January 11 at Henderson Gym. Tip-off is at 8pm.