Richmond Hill basketball took another positive step forward in its rebuilding year for both the boys and girls programs by defeating Claxton this past Friday - just in time to give it a boost in to a very competitive Savannah Holiday Classic scheduled for this week. The Wildcat boys defeated the visiting Tigers 56-35; the ladies won the opener 43-21.
The boys improved to 3-4 overall, 1-0 region 3-AAA while the girls now stand at 2-4, 0-1.
Richmond Hill’s Lady Cats played their first complete offensive game against the Lady Tigers much to head coach Elizabeth Bennett’s relief. Although they had played well as a team on defense recently guard Tyler Carlson had done the lions share of the scoring.
Bennett credited the move of Colleen Keller from point to shooting guard for opening things up a bit. The move gave Keller some better looks at the basket and she led the team from the field with twelve points. She also received help from Daisha Davis and Jade Crosby with 8 points a piece. Carlson chipped in 8 of her own.
In the men’s contest, Richmond Hill finally broke open a close contest in the second half when they hit a couple of early third period three pointers and forced the Tigers out of the 2-3 zone defense that had been dogging them the entire first half. Once Claxton switched to the man-on-man defense the Wildcats started matching up well, but it wasn’t all that easy.
Unable to hit their first half shots, out rebounded by one, and having more turnovers than their opponents - Richmond Hill - in head coach William Altman’s words, had to "out work" the visiting Tigers. Most of that work came on defense, and after only an 18-12 halftime lead.
Chakiris Moss led Richmond Hill with 17 points while Sean Szad added 12 points and Darius Postell 10. Chris Bellamy had the game high total for the Tigers with 19 points. Richmond Hill will now face a tough Calvary Day School team in the opening game of the Savannah Holiday Classic.
"They are a little bigger than us. They have played some good ball against common opponents, with similar results. They also have this Padgett kid that will be hard to match up against, but we are in a competitive bracket and we hope to do well" said Altman about his opening game scheduled for Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. at Savannah States Wiley Gym. The tournament will conclude on Saturday night and will include Salem, Jenkins, Savannah Country Day, Windsor Forest, Benedictine, and Midland Valley in the same bracket.
The Richmond Hill girls will open Thursday night at Wiley Gym at 7 p.m. against a very athletic Groves team. Calvary, Johnson, St. Vincent’s, Jenkins, and Windsor Forest will also compete in the ladies bracket. Bennett had this to say about her opening opponent.
"We are going to try and take their athleticism out of the game by controlling the tempo and force them to make some shots." Bennett hopes that playing a zone defense will help control the action and will also be prepared to throw her guards out there - anticipating some full court pressure from Groves.
Both coaches are hoping the three games this week will help prepare their teams for a very competitive region schedule beginning with the sub-region favorite Liberty County on January 4. Bennett feels the games help get teams ready for post season tournament time because you have to prepare differently for different opponents in each nights games.
Coach Altman sees his team getting a little better with each game and hopes that trend continues during the tournament. The first year coach is also hoping a little momentum and a little Christmas spirit carries with them in to the new year.