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Wildcats locked in for mid-season push
The boys' basketball team hope to win a home match against Lowndes on Friday.

If anyone thinks the Richmond Hill boys basketball team is sitting around feeling sorry for itself, they’re barking up the wrong tree.

Coach Bill Henderson is in his 13th season at his alma mater and although his team is currently 2-16, 1-2 in Region 1-7A play going into Friday night’s home game with Lowndes County, he is as upbeat as if the records were reversed.

The game with the Vikings will kick off an important weekend for Richmond Hill which will also host Colquitt County on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Coach Sarah Jones’ team (13-5, 1-2) will also be playing the same two teams.

“I feel good about what I’ve seen the last couple of games,” Henderson said. “We’ve got a group that still gets after it and we’re going to keep trying.”

In their last outing the Wildcats dropped a 63-49 decision to Woodville-Tompkins which is having an outstanding season. The Wolverines (16-2) are ranked third in the state in Class A-D1–but unlike other sports, in basketball there is often little difference in talent between Class 7A and Class A.

Prior to playing Woodville, the Wildcats snapped an 11-game losing streak when it beat region rival Colquitt County, 61-51, at Colquitt.

It was that performance against the Packers on which Henderson is basing his outlook for a run which he hopes will propel the Wildcats to a third-place finish at best–thus avoiding the dreaded play-in game for the region tournament.

In a five-team region, the fourth and fifth-place teams play to advance to the region tournament which would also guarantee a berth in the state playoffs. Last year, Richmond Hill lost to Colquitt and thus missed the playoffs.

Camden County (14-3, 2-0) and Valdosta (15-5, 2-1) appear to have a lock on first and second with everyone else scrambling for third. Richmond Hill (2-16, 1-2) currently is third followed by Colquitt (3-10, 0-1) and Lowndes (5-8, 0-1).

“We can’t change what has happened in the first 18 games,” Henderson said. “We are focused on our remaining games and getting ready for the region tournament. We want a three-seed and it’s still on the table for us.”

The Wildcats are not deep but Henderson has a lot of confidence in his core group of Joshua Scott, Bryce Hendricks, Skyler Riley, Derrick Lum, Braylon Hayes and junior point guard Liam Bolton.

Bolton, especially, is a key component for the Wildcats as they head down the stretch.

“Liam has been doing a really good job of getting us into our offense,” Henderson said. “One big thing I’m seeing a lot more of is we’re more efficient on offense and we’re playing well on defense.”

Scott leads the team in scoring at 11 points per game. Hendricks is averaging 8.6 and Bolton 7.6. The 6-foot-3 Scott is averaging 5.7 rebounds per game and Hendricks is at 4.9.

The Wildcats are mired in their third straight losing season after a four-year stretch in which they were 77-33 including a 24-5 mark in 2020.

“We kind of lost our identity and culture,” Henderson said, “but I’m starting to see those positives from the past. With our record it’s been kind of hard but we’re getting it back.

“What’s important now is how we’re playing going into February. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”

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