Only a select few basketball players reach the coveted 1,000-point mark in their time on the high school hardwood.
The Richland program is fortunate enough to have three in the same graduating class with Jesse Jennings, Daniel Nicholson and Logan Helton each reaching the milestone for the program.
But Friday night’s 18-point performance by Jennings places her in especially elite company as she surpassed 2,000, an exceedingly rare feat.
Jennings’ accomplishment has been years in the making with the young guard already serving as an above average player on the high school floor when only an eighth grader. By the end of her sophomore year, she had already won or shared two district tournament MVP honors and passed the 1,000 point mark.
Since then, Jennings has added another MVP award and is closing in on 100 career victories in a Lady Raider uniform since joining the team four years ago.
With its full roster now on the court after missing several players in the early season, Richland won two games last week including a 65-28 victory over Santa Fe to open the district season 1-0.
This week, the Lady Raiders (5-4, 1-0) were scheduled to host Culleoka yesterday (Tuesday) before closing the week against what is sure to be their toughest competition of the 10-A schedule with a home date against Hampshire (8-3, 2-0).
The Lady Raiders fell 62-57 on the road to a scrappy Fayetteville City team with a strong post presence Jan. 4.
Sharp shooting guard Gracie Hoagland scored 19 points including eight in the opening frame for the Lady Tigers. Zanaria Robinson and Hannah Litaker combined for 22 more in the post.
Richland surrendered 21 points in the opening quarter defensively but were still within three at halftime thanks to 19 first half points from its own star guard, Jesse Jennings.
Jennings finished with a game-high 33 points, accounting for nearly two-thirds of her team’s total. Richland fell behind by seven entering the fourth period and could not close the gap in the final eight minutes.
Finishing second for RHS was a player who could be the future face of the program as eighth grader Shelby Higgins knocked down a trio of 3-point shots to finish with 11 points in her first career high school game. Katie Garner and Allie Garner finished with five points each, and Kristen Garner added three.
Richland turned a halftime deficit into a 25-point victory as the team turned up the defensive intensity against Huntland at home Jan. 5.
The Lady Raiders struggled to close out on the Lady Hornet shooters in the first half, and Huntland took advantage with 3-point baskets and pull-up jumpers to take a 35-31 lead into halftime.
RHS came out of the halftime break a more physical team, dominating the interior and forcing Huntland into foul trouble while converting on constant trips to the free throw stripe. Richland went 19-of-22 from the free throw line in the second half including a perfect 14-of-14 performance from Jesse Jennings as part of her game-high 24 points. Katie and Kristen Garner were also spot on from downtown with a combined six 3-point baskets. Allie Garner also provided one of her most dominant career performances posting a double-double with 12 points as a mainstay in the painted area.
Kristen Garner finished with 14 points followed by Katie Garner’s 11. Gracie Braden added six points as did Higgins who added another 3-point basket and went 3-for-3 from the line after being fouled on an attempt from long range.
Anna Stevenson finished with 13 points for Huntland with Kami Riley adding 11. A total of three of their combined points came in the final half.
Santa Fe 28
While Santa Fe posed a threat to Richland’s district hopes last season, the Lady Wildcats were not up to the task in the first meeting this season as the Lady Raiders took a 37-point road victory.
Richland led 25-1 after one quarter and 40-8 at halftime in a thoroughly dominant performance. Santa Fe has yet to capture its first victory this season.
Jennings surpassing 2,000 points was the highlight of the night as part of her 18-point performance. Shelby Higgins finished second with 13 points including three more 3-point baskets. Higgins caps her first week of high school basketball with seven 3-point baskets and a 10 point per game average through three contests.
Gracie Braden also finished in double figures with 10 points, all in the first half. Katie Garner scored seven points. Ava Shrader added five. Kristen Garner, Allie Garner, Katelyn Bass and Halle Braden finished with three points apiece.
No Lady Wildcat players finished in double figures.