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RH girls thrash metter
RH girls 1
Wade Wright addresses his team. - photo by Photo by Terry Logan
The Lady Wildcats are looking strong heading into the upcoming regionals. Although they suffered a 70-31 loss to top-seeded Hepzibah, they came away with victories over Portal and Metter.
Tuesday night, the Lady Cats came away with a 62-46 edge over Portal. Coach Wade Wright said afterward that he was proud of the team for a strong defensive effort in spite of center Jennifer Pellam’s absence.
“We were forced to use four guards, and it worked, which is a good sign because that strategy may come into play for the upcoming tournament,” Coach Wright said. “I don’t think we executed this game as well as we could have, but anytime you come away with a win, you’re doing something right.”
After a long bus ride and a tough loss the night before to the Augusta-area Hephzibah, maybe they just needed to be back on their home court. Or maybe the team meal they enjoyed on their way home Friday night helped put the loss behind them. Or, as Wright explained after their 66-31 turn-around against Metter, “What you saw tonight was the culmination of four weeks of drilling on teamwork, defense, and patience on offense...”. Not to mention some white hot shooting by Richmond Hill.
The Lady Wildcats finished the game with three, nearly four players in double figures for the night and their 66 points approximately doubled their season average.
Jennifer Pellam led all scorers with 21 points, Kala Hires and Tyler Carlson had 14 points each and Colleen Keller was a free throw shy of ten. It was their best team effort and every time Metter put the breaks on one player the ladies found another hot hand.
The game started benign enough, both teams playing a tight man defense. The only real scoring opportunities for either team came underneath the basket where Pellam made three of three attempts from close range and had her team up 10-4 at the end of the first period. Things would loosen up in the second.
Kala Hires started shaking free of her coverage and was getting open near the top of the key. Hires made the best of the opportunity by sinking four of four three point attempts from the area and showed the Metter bench what a lot of teams in the area had already figured out over the last several years of her career - don’t leave her open.
With that lesson learned, Metter went to a box and one defense at the start of the second half, down 31-14 and looking for answers. With Hires now being hounded, Coach Wright called his own timeout to discuss the counter. The solution was simple enough. If Hires was going to be covered, someone else should be open.
Tyler Carlson took the offensive reigns by sinking three field goals and then shared a pair of three pointers with guard Sarah Reid toward the end of the period to completely knock the wheels out from under the Lady Tigers’ wagon. Keller stepped up in the fourth period with six of her total to lead a contingent of bench players that didn’t let up until the final buzzer.
With so much offense, it is easy to overlook the defense, but it was the relentless man pressure that kept the Lady Tigers from ever being able to mount a comeback. Another key to their success was the lack of turn overs and mistakes. Even when Metter tried to press the ball, Richmond Hill was able to keep their composure to get the ball into their half court offense where they really shine. It was hard to imagine that the same team beat them earlier in the year.
On Friday night, the Wildcats played a very talented Hephzibah team even for almost the entire first period and, in fact, led 9-8 with only 57 seconds left in the period. But it was senior night and that is when the talented Lady Rebels put in their regular starters and immediately turned the game around.
Richmond Hill, now through with their region schedule at 4-6, awaits the layout for the upcoming region schedule. They have one more warm up Saturday, Feb. 10 at the Richmond Hill Gym against Jenkins, game time 7 p.m.
If coach Wright can get his team to play the way they did on this past Saturday, look for the Lady wildcats to possibly surprise some people at the tournament.
“We set out a goal to finish third, and that’s exactly where we ended up,” said Coach Wright. “We are excited about the regionals, and hope to go all the way.”
The Region 3-AAA tournament will be at Cross Creek High School with the Richmond Hill girls playing in the first round Monday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. against the #6 seed from 3-AAA North.
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