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Wildcats fall at buzzer
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Not until Xavier Owens’ 3 point desperation shot rang off the rim at the final buzzer did the Richmond Hill Wildcats finally concede on their second potential win of the season. While it was another gut wrenching end, the 43-40 loss to visiting Metter gave the team another reason to walk off with their heads up high.
After two earlier losses in the week first to visiting Portal (62-46), then after a long bus ride to Hephzibah (70-31 loss) on Friday night, the Wildcats welcomed a chance to right the ship on their own court. Saturday night seemed right for the fight, and Metter seemed just the right for the task.
From the jump ball on, the game would be tightly contested. Richmond Hill in a man defense and the Tigers in a zone, the Wildcats stingy with shooting opportunities and the Tigers forcing Richmond Hill to shoot long. Points came slowly for both and the period ended with Metter up 9-8. With the way his defense was matched up, Coach Morris had to know he needed someone to step up and score.
Finally, the Wildcats started finding a path to the basket and Darien Cothern (14 points), made 3 of his 7 total field goals in the period. Richmond Hill was starting to attack that zone more and waiting for their opportunities. Point guard Xavier Owens slashed to the basket towards the end of the half for a lay up, giving Richmond Hill the advantage at the half 18-16.
During the period, Alex Tucker would enter the game and the normally sure-shooting guard could not find his mark in attempting four field goals. The Wildcat bench had to realize then that they would have to rely on their defense to keep them in the game.
The Wildcats clamped down in the third and held the two most productive players for Metter to just three points. Terrence Collins, who would finish with 14 points, was scoreless in the period while Jeff Thurman (12 points) had just three points. At the same time, the Cats forced five turnovers to help keep them in the game.
On the other end of the floor, Chakiris Moss (11 points) finally started finding his mark and made two 3 pointers, then Melvin Johnson nailed another three late to give the Wildcats back the lead. The game would swing back and forth on in to the final period and would be decided at the free throw line.
Sean Szad (8 pts.) scored a basket late to give the Wildcats their final lead of the night. Collins countered for the Tigers however and, a couple of free throws later, Richmond Hill found themselves down by as much as five points in the final minute. The Wildcats were forced to foul to stop the clock, and Thurman and Collins made them pay at the line. The pair of Tigers scored seven points at the line in the final period.
Moss scored a three-pointer with only three seconds left to give the Cats hope, then fouled quickly on the inbound. After Metter finally missed a pair of free throws, Owens took the rebound and the ball the length of the court for the final shot that was a hair off of tying the game. It was another valiant effort for the Wildcats that came up short, but the fans in attendance got their moneys worth.
The Wildcats will finish their regular season at home against Jenkins Saturday night, February 10, with a 7 p.m. start. Region 3-AAA tournament will be at Cross Creek High School with the Richmond hill boys to play Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. against the 3-AAA North #3 seed.

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