Friday, 15 January 2021 20:07

Lady Raiders roll Hoke County for first win

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Jayla McDougald (left) and Allyiah Swiney strip the ball from Kyanna Hollingsworth (20) in Friday's win. Jayla McDougald (left) and Allyiah Swiney strip the ball from Kyanna Hollingsworth (20) in Friday's win. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — A couple of minutes to breathe and refocus during halftime was the difference maker in Richmond Senior High School’s win on Friday.

The Lady Raider basketball team didn’t disappoint in its much-anticipated home opener against Hoke County High School. Richmond hadn’t played in 10 days, but the Lady Raiders didn’t let off the gas in a 55-18 thrashing, which was also their first win of the season.

“It feels good to win,” head coach Teddy Moseley said. “We came out really nervous in the first half and we had to settle in. We didn’t play well in the first quarter and there was a long drought where we didn’t score.

“The only thing I said at halftime was the girls needed to settle down,” he added. “Nerves played a big part in that. We sat in the locker room and closed our eyes for a couple minutes and that helped them lock in and have a great third quarter.”

Nine total players would find the basket for Richmond in the win, and the home team was led by senior point guard Jayla McDougald and her game-high 15 points. McDougald netted the first eight points of the game for Richmond and added three rebounds and two steals.

Fellow senior forward Jakerra Covington made her season debut with 10 points and had team-highs in rebounds (7) and steals (5). Freshman Ryelan Lyerly had the best game of her young career, netting seven points and two boards.

Sophomore shooting guard Kyla Sampson proved big in the game, racking up six points and four rebounds. Senior center Davionna Campbell also added six points and four boards.

McDougald scored the game’s first five points to give Richmond a 5-0 lead in the opening three minutes. She hit a free throw before adding a breakaway layup and another easy bucket off a Covington steal. 

A minute later, McDougald drilled a three-pointer. Sampson followed with three consecutive free throws to help put Richmond up 11-3 with 4:17 to go in the first. 

Hoke County closed the quarter on a 4-0 run after Richmond’s shooting went cold after Sampson’s shots from the charity stripe. One thing that impressed Moseley was how his defense established itself early in the game.

“Our defense set the tone early, and Allyiah (Swiney) is going to make a huge difference by being able to pressure the ball out front,” Moseley said. “We had 13 steals tonight, but we have to learn to convert on those steals.”

The Lady Raiders outscored the Lady Bucks 17-5 in the second period, using six players to find the hoop. Lyerly splashed home her first career varsity points on a three-pointer from the right corner with 5:27 left in the half to extend the team’s lead to 16-9.

Covington, one of Richmond’s most physical players in the paint, scored six of the next eight points for the Lady Raiders in a three-minute span. She made a steal for an easy layup and then finished a hard drive through three defenders. On the ensuing inbound, she swiped the pass and laid it in.

Up 24-10, Campbell knocked in a pair of free throws and junior Mariah Waddell grabbed an offensive board and delivered a basket for her two points in the game. At the break, Richmond led 28-12.

“The first feeling I had were chills all over my body,” Lyerly smiled of her first career basket. “Being a freshman and getting to play, not many people get that chance, so it’s unbelievable. When I drained it, it felt good and I’m proud of the team’s effort tonight.”

Following the break, the Lady Raiders exploded for a 24-point third quarter. Eight different players would score, including a quarter-best five points from McDougald. Richmond’s defense also locked in and held Hoke County to just two points, a shot from Faith Mason at the 3:55 mark.

The Lady Raiders opened the third on an 11-0 run before an official mask break was called. Campbell made two baskets in the paint during that span, and Sampson capped her night with a deep three from the top of the key.

Sophomore C’Nedra Hinson added a basket and junior Jamiya Ratliff made a nice move down low for the final two of her four points.

Following Mason’s basket for Hoke County, Richmond closed the frame on a 13-0 stretch. McDougald hit a triple and scored off a steal, Swiney powered through the paint for two and Covington hit two buckets off the glass. 

With 30 seconds left, Lyerly popped off a mid-range jumper to give Richmond a 52-14 lead.

“We locked down and played a really good 3-2 defense tonight,” Lyerly said. “We made sure we had our backs squared to the ball and really handled ourselves well tonight.”

In the opening minute of the fourth, Lyerly hit her final jumper, which put Richmond up 40 points and started the running clock. A Swiney free throw gave the Lady Raiders their largest lead of the night, 41 points, and proved to be the final basket for Richmond.

One thing that Moseley used to his advantage was a revolving door of players in both halves.

“Our goal was to use all 10 players and interchange them at any time to keep our legs fresh,” Moseley explained. “We don’t expect there to be a dropoff and everyone who came in played really well on offense and defense.”

For Covington, whose senior season has gotten off to a wild start, she said the win gave the team a boost, especially with the physical play in the paint.

“The win feels good because we’ve been so anxious to play and we finally were able to tonight,” Covington said. “We practice so hard and haven’t played, which has been frustrating. But tonight we got that win and that pumps us up.

“This year we are being more aggressive down low and we’re attacking the basket,” she added. “We really took advantage of every rebound tonight and that gives us a chance to score.”

Leading scorers for Hoke County (0-1) were Kyanna Hollingsworth (six points) and Nazira Buddie and Mason, who each had four points.

Richmond (1-1) will play one more “non-conference” game at Lumberton High School (0-0) on Tuesday. Following the Sandhills Athletic Conference’s decision to revamp the basketball schedule, conference play won’t begin until Jan. 22.

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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