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Wildcats and Panthers split Friday night matchup
Kaleb Beckwith
Kaleb Beckwith lays the ball up against Liberty County - photo by Gerald Thomas III

RICHMOND HILL

GIRLS

It started off slow for the Richmond Hill Lady Wildcats (5-0) but picked up in the second half of their 41-30 victory over the Liberty County Lady Panthers (0-2).

MaKiyah Matthews led the Lady Wildcats with 13 points and Asia Johnson led the Lady Panthers with eight.

The teams put nine total points to begin the game with the Lady Panthers using its zone defense to stop the Lady Wildcats from coming inside.

The Lady Panthers led 6-3 with Lady Wildcats only knocking down a three in the first quarter.

“We had another offensively slow start kind of like we did the other night but I thought we did a really good job of keeping our intensity up,” Lady Wildcats Head Coach Sarah Jones said “I thought we did a really good job of keeping our intensity up. We didn’t let the slow start dictate the rest of the game.”

The second quarter came in with Keyera Grant and Matthews trading threes.

Eventually, the Lady Wildcats took the lead from the Lady Panthers.

First Zoraya Thornton tied the ball game up at 10 almost halfway through the second.

Then Matthews got fouled and took a 11-10 lead after hitting one free throw.

Teams went into the lockers with the Lady Wildcats leading the Lady Panthers 15-11.

“They were able to get some stops that led us to some offense,” Jones said. “We harp on discipline and execution.”

The game belonged to the Lady Wildcats for the remainder of it.

They extended their lead to nine by the end of the third quarter with a score of 31-22.

In the fourth quarter, they took a double-digit lead after a score by Savannah Gravitt and never looked back.

The Lady Wildcats will host Hilton Head tomorrow.

“We just have to come ready to play,” Jones said. “It’s tough. We worked on some stuff yesterday at practice but you’re really talking about trying to prepare for two teams. We’ll watch a little bit of film and get ourselves ready to play. If we continue to play at a high intensity, it will keep us in the game regardless of our offensive performances to really give ourselves a chance to win. That’s all we ask for whether you’re doing really well offensively or if you’re having an off night. Defense has kept us in the game and allowed us to pull out these close ones.”

The Lady Panthers will have Glynn Academy in town tomorrow.

BOYS

The absence of Richmond Hill Wildcats guard Brayden Baker showed in their game against the Liberty County Panthers.

The Wildcats (1-3) ran into a buzzsaw against the Panthers (2-0) behind the guard duo of Corey Love Jr. and Jeremiah Smoke in their 56-34 loss.

Love had the game high point total with 22.

Kaleb Beckwith led the Wildcats with 17.

The Love-Smoke duo scored the first 11 points before Julian Jackson stopped the bleeding for the Panthers.

Love immediately made another three following it to make the score 14-2.

The Wildcats continued in the second quarter on a 11-2 run.

“It’s just a culmination of all the work they’ve put in since April,” Panthers Head Coach Levon Grant said. “Those guys are the first two in the gym and the last to leave. They’re our version of the ‘Splash Brothers.’ That type of title doesn’t come without the work ethic. And that’s one of the things that we preach: mentality, unity, and work ethic. Those two definitely put the work in every single day. They deserve any type of accolades and things that are going to happen to them in a positive way. They deserve it.”

In the second quarter, the Wildcats held the Panthers to two points and scored nine of their own to trim their deficit to 27-13 at the break.

The game slowed down once the second half began with the Panthers outscoring the Wildcats 10-7.

Once the fourth quarter came along, subs were in as the Panthers coasted to a victory.

“We’re really trying to improve every game,” Grant said after the victory. “We went back after the first game of the season, and we knew we had a bunch of things that we had to work on to get better. Tonight, was not about Richmond Hill. It was more about us coming in here and executing on both ends. I thought our guys did a fantastic job of getting one percent better today. It’s back to the drawing board tomorrow. We got a back-to-back and things to clean up that we got to get better at. Right now, we’re playing for Liberty County High School more so than playing against the other team. I’m so proud of the guys.”

The Panthers will have Glynn Academy in town tomorrow.

“This is a big 6A region, our first three opponents Bradwell, Richmond Hill, and Glynn Academy will be the third,” Grant said about their upcoming matchup. “These teams are really physical and big teams on the inside. They really try to pound you on the inside with size. These teams are making us better for our region. That’s the reason why we put them on the schedule. Glynn will be a great opponent. They have great guards and great inside players. It’s going to be a tough challenge just to try to stop them, but our guys are up for the challenge. We’re ready.”

The Wildcats will bring Hilton Head in for a contest.

 

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