CHERAW — What a difference 24 hours makes.
After losing by 41 points in its season opener, the Richmond Senior girls basketball team turned the tide Wednesday night and experienced something it hasn’t done in nearly 10 months.
Richmond sprinted out to a 21-point halftime lead and went on to cruise to a 54-24 victory over Cheraw (South Carolina). It was the first victory for Richmond since it defeated Purnell Swett 39-34 on Feb. 3.
“It was effort,” Richmond coach Rosalind McLendon McDonald said about the win. “It goes back to the basic fundamentals I stress every day in practice — defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball. That is all I ever stress is basic fundamentals. Defense wins games…rebounding and taking care of the ball.”
The Raiders (1-1) scored the game’s first 13 points and never looked back to give their coach her first victory. The Braves tried to forge a comeback in the final two quarters but were only able to pull within 15 points in the final minute of the third.
Cheraw coach James McMillian thought his squad’s youth hurt them in its season opener.
“I only have one senior on the team, the rest are freshmen and sophomores,” McMillian said. “It was the first game they have played together. I’m basically playing my junior varsity team. I still feel we could have executed better.”
Following the 60-19 loss to Union Pines Tuesday, McLendon McDonald talked about her players being unafraid to take shots. She thought they did a better job against Cheraw.
“I had to tell them it is OK to take a shot and to miss a shot,” she said. “That’s part of the game. Mistakes will be made. There will be good nights and not-so-good nights.”
Against the Vikings, no Raider was able to get into double digits, but it was a different story versus the Braves. Three Richmond players scored at least 11 points and another had eight.
Zelda McLaughlin netted a game-high 14 points and Brianna Baysek added 12, while Zariah Williams chipped in 11. Deon Everette netted eight in the win.
Cheraw was paced by Daebreon McIver, who scored eight. Callie Bryant and Ania Waiters both had five for the Braves (0-1).
Richmond will return to action 6 p.m. Monday when it travels to Cameron to face Union Pines.
Reach Richmond County Daily Journal managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.