Lower Richland blew past Ridge View in the fourth quarter on the way to as 59-44 win in an interesting early-season game at The Diamond Mine. It was, after all, a clash between two unbeaten girls basketball teams that happen to be ranked No. 3 in their respective classifications.
LR trailed 39-38 entering the final eight minutes and got off to a good start on a three-point play by Ashley Irving. The Diamond Hornets never relinquished the lead, but the real knock-out blow came on a 14-4 run over the final 5:07 of the game. The decisive burst featured six points by Dayshonshe Mitchell and a perfect 6-for-6 showing at the free-throw line.
“We knew this game was going to be a good test, and I think we did make a statement tonight,” said LR coach Debbie Stroman. “We’re a young team but we’re starting to see how deep we can go. We lost six seniors from last year, so there were some questions coming into this season, but tonight gave us some answers.”
Veterans Mitchell and Brashay Johnson led the balanced Diamond Hornets attack with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Eighth-grader Dejah Willford and Christian Brown contributed eight points apiece and Irving, who did not take the floor until late in the third quarter, chipped in with seven points.
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Defensively, Lower Richland (6-0) forced 27 turnovers, including 11 in the telling fourth quarter.
“We’re still trying to develop some depth,” said RV coach Terrence Gibson, whose team fell to 3-1. “Because our starters played so many minutes, we wore down in the fourth quarter. We were hoping this was going to be the kind of signature win we’ve been looking for the past few seasons, but we’ll keep on working to get one. All in all, I think we can take something positive out of this and build on it.”
Alexus Jackson and Jontay Mitchem led the way for the Blazers. Jackson rang up a game-high 19, but scored only six points on 1-for-7 shooting from the field in the second half. Mitchem finished with 13 points on good shooting. The junior wing was 4-for-7 from the field, including two 3-pointers and was 3-for-4 at the line.