December 19, 2009 11:06:00 PM
Geonte'' Richardson was given the green light by his coach to shoot the 3-pointer.
He didn''t hold anything back Saturday.
Richardson hit three from long range in the first quarter to help the East Oktibbeha High School boys basketball team build a 12-point lead en route to a 65-54 victory against Holt (Ala.) High at the 13th annual Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Invitational.
"I''ve been practicing at shooting the three more and it''s falling for me," said Richardson, who had 19 points. "I''ve just got to keep working harder."
Even though Richardson is a senior, this is the first time he has been instrumental for East Oktibbeha coach Barnett Robinson.
Robinson said Richardson''s work ethic in practice is earning him playing time in the games.
"He''s getting the confidence so he can do it in the game," Robinson said. "He''s starting to feel comfortable and is playing up to his capabilities."
Richardson hit his first three with 5 minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the first quarter to give the Titans their first lead, 7-5. He hit back-to-back shots from long range to close the quarter.
East Oktibbeha (7-4) pushed the lead to 35-21 at halftime, but Holt cut the margin to 48-38 after the third quarter. The Titans'' advantage was 60-52 with 1:49 left in the game.
Robinson didn''t like the way his squad allowed Holt to stay in the game.
"Just because you have a lead at halftime doesn''t mean you are going to win the ballgame," Robinson said. "You''ve got to continue to play until that clock hits zero after the fourth quarter. The ballgame is not over until then.
"I think we''re headed in the right direction, but we''ve got work to do. We can''t get complacent."
Robinson was concerned East Oktibbeha missed its free throws and allowed too many second-chance opportunities to Holt.
On the missed free throws, Robinson said, "In a real close game, we''re going to need some of them. Those are free, but you''ve got to make them."
Kirby Sherman had 17 points (seven rebounds) and Casey Neal added 10 points, while Richardson also had seven rebounds.
Joseph Brooks had 22 points for Holt (4-7).
n Jackson Callaway 58, Raymond 40 (B): Callaway coach Wayne Brent was happy to see a change of defense so it could be a measuring stick for his squad.
After playing teams like Jackson Provine, Oak Hill Academy, and Piney Woods in a tournament in Meridian, all the Chargers saw was man-to-man defenses, Raymond threw a zone at Callaway, which Brent welcomed.
Even though the Chargers (9-4) won easily, Brent saw a weakness in penetrating Raymond''s defense at times.
"I thought we were a little sluggish and didn''t do well against the zone," Brent said. "This tournament was good as far as seeing something we don''t normally see."
Callaway also had an unsettled roster going in as Brent just added Terran Gilmore and De''vion Smith.
"We''re trying to get them some experience and our team is trying to find our identity," Brent said. "The first 11 games we''ve been playing with a different group."
After the Rangers took a 10-8 lead after the first quarter, the Chargers got in gear and captured a 27-22 advantage at halftime. The Chargers continued to stretch the margin throughout the second half.
Raymond (5-8), a Class 4A school, has already played 11 Class 6A schools, including Columbus Friday night.
Callaway is Class 5A and Raymond coach Willie Neal believes seeing that type of competition helps.
"We''re a young team just trying to prepare for district," Neal said. "That''s the main thing."