In their last regular games of the season before heading to the region tournament, RHHS dropped two non-region games to Portal High School – both with an eight point deficit. The boys lost 58-66 while the girls lost 36-44.
The boys’ game went up and down with the Panthers living up to their top ten state ranking. Portal players David Buchanan (22 points) and Mario Farris (21 points) stacked the deck just a bit too high for the Cats this night.
"I felt we played pretty good defense but those two talented young men broke through regardless," Altman said. "We tried to slow it down, but they pressured us."
A strong Richmond Hill fourth quarter with 24 points scored was too little, too late to overcome the 3-A powerhouse Panthers.
Chakiris Moss scored 20 points, Darius Postell 9, Robbie Bynum 9 and CJ Bynum put 7 on the scoreboard.
The region tournament for the boys starts Monday in Burke County with a first round contest versus Cross Creek.
"Cross Creek is not a big team, but they’re very athletic," Altman said. "We have a good chance of a win here. If we beat them, we face Glen Hills on Wednesday."
Glen Hills received a bye into the second round for being the number one ranked team in the north sub region, so the Cats would have to pull out a huge upset in order to make it to state.
The girls, who beat Portal last week, came up on the short end of the stick this time out. Coach Elizabeth Bennett said it was pretty clear what decided this contest.
"They beat us on free throws – it’s as simple as that," she said. "They made them and we didn’t. They shot 23 in the first half versus zero for us. It also didn’t help that this was a totally different team than what we scouted as they got a new coach just prior to this game."
On a positive note, Bennett said Courtney Myers played "some of the best defense I’ve seen from her all year", Colleen Keller hit some crucial shots and Tyler Carlson nailed 12 points.
The girls’ region tournament starts Tuesday in Burke County with a first round game versus Harlem.
"I think we could not have gotten a better draw in the tournament than Harlem," Bennett said. "Right now, we’re strategizing and putting in a new defensive and offensive plan. I feel good about it."
Like the boys, the girls face an intimidating obstacle before earning a vie to state even if they win in the first round. Highly touted Liberty County awaits the RHHS-Harlem victor after already earning a bye. Bennett fails to be intimidated by this apparent barrier.
"Everybody’s liable for an upset at one time or another," she said. "Liberty is about due."