ORANGE PARK – The Orange Park High Lady Raiders basketball team probably did not read in the Clay Today sports pages that their district 4-6A showdown on Wed., Dec. 12 was supposed to show off the run and gun offenses of both the Raiders (8-2, 5-0) and the Ridgeview High Lady Panthers (6-2, 1-1).
Unfortunately, Orange Park was impolite on the whole idea of showdown and roared to an 18-1 first quarter lead en route to a 63-26 win that kind of put everyone on notice that the Raiders may be legit.
“We like to push the ball and put pressure on the defense,” said Orange Park coach Fred Cole. “We have some pretty good athletes and I like to let them play and use that athleticism on the court.”
Orange Park got things moving south with a 9-0 opening salvo led by two buckets from Sha’Mia Capers and a three pointer from Yoly Rosado as the Raiders catch-and-release defense was not letting Ridgeview get past half court any time soon.
“We don’t have a whole lot of standing around in practice; we run everywhere,” said Cole. “We don’t stand. We constantly move. And we take that attitude into the game.”
Ridgeview got their first and only point of the stanza at 4:32 with a free throw, but the Raiders continued the blitzkrieg with top shooter Macie Faucett (16 Pts.) canning three and Nia Brown sinking a layup to end the quarter at 18-1.
Orange Park pushed to a 31-1 edge before Ridgeview guard Heavun McCarver drilled a three to score the game 31-5 with Trenity Gilford adding free throws to 31-7 with Sydney Rowland mashing a blocked shot to give the Raiders a 34-7 halftime lead.
In the third, Ridgeview figured out a way to get the ball downcourt and closed the scoring to 59-18 before holding the Raiders to eight fourth quarter points to the 63-26 final.
“We have good depth and we think we can play our style the entire game much like Nolan Richardson’s 40 minutes of hell, but we like to call it 32 minutes of hell,” said Cole, referring to former University of Arkansas basketball Nolan Richardson who employed a similar fast-paced attack.
Capers led the Raider scoring with 18 points with Maucett at 16 and Brown at 14. Rosado and Maucett both hit two three-pointers. Capers was top rebounder with nine. Nayeli Williams had 12 assists with Capers getting six steals. Brown had five blocked shots.
Orange Park kept rolling two nights later with a 56-24 non-district win over Bradford with Capers leading with 20 points and Rosado at 12. Brown had five blocked shots for a second straight game.
“When they rebound like they have been it gives us a big advantage,” said Cole.