SANFORD — Suffering just its second loss against a Sandhills Athletic Conference opponent this season, the Richmond girls’ basketball team came up short on Tuesday.
On the heels of two one-possession wins last week, the Lady Raiders let a slow second half on offense lead to a 52-29 loss to Lee County High School.
Despite being within two possessions at halftime, the Lady Raiders were outscored 12-3 in the third quarter and 23-13 in the final eight minutes.
“We gave up tonight, and even the girls said that in the locker room,” head coach Teddy Moseley said. “There’s no way we believe (Lee County) is 23 points better than us. We just have to learn to play through adversity.”
Richmond managed to jump out to a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, using all five of freshman guard J’Nasia Neal’s points in the game. She had a layup, a free throw and an offensive rebound putback.
Junior center Makailah Jackson, who also finished with five points, made a shot under the basket for her first two points to make it a 7-4 lead.
Posing as a threat on offense for the Lady Yellow Jackets (10-2, 3-1 SAC) was Kelyce McSwain, who scored a game-high 22 points, most of which came from the paint.
Lee County used four points each from McSwain and Nya South to take a 17-13 lead at halftime. Richmond scored six points in the second, using a three-pointer apiece from seniors Nyla Stroman and C’Nedra Hinson.
Out of the locker room, Richmond let its deficit reach double digits in the third quarter. The Lady Yellow Jackets scored the first four points and junior forward C’Niya Hinson netted the first two of her 11 second-half points for Richmond.
Lee County used an 8-1 run to close the frame, with Jackson connecting on a free throw for Richmond.
An 8-2 run to begin the fourth quarter gave the Lady Raiders some hope, as C’Niya Hinson completed an old-fashioned three-point play to get it started. Jackson added her final two points on a putback and C’Niya Hinson scored another close-range shot.
C’Nedra Hinson went to the line and made one free throw to cut Richmond’s hole to 31-24 with 6:32 to play. But a 6-0 run by Lee County opened it back up, forcing a Richmond timeout.
Trailing by 17 points with a little more than half of the quarter left, C’Niya Hinson netted her final four points in a short span. She collected her own rebound for two more points and added two shots from the foul line.
A scoring drought that lasted over four minutes was broken when freshman Olivia Brown scored her one point in the game on a free throw. During that stretch, Lee County added its final 11 points, including a three-pointer near the buzzer.
South finished with 12 points for the Lady Yellow Jackets and Cherish Smith netted 8 points in the win.
“The positive thing is I still think we are the best team in this conference,” Moseley noted. “From top to bottom, I have yet to see a team that’s better than us. We just have to grow as a team and play basketball.”
The Lady Raiders (5-9, 3-2 SAC) will take a break from conference play on Saturday and compete against Cape Fear Christian Academy.
One of several games in an MLK Jr. tournament, Richmond will begin at 3:30 p.m. at Terry Sanford High School.