ESSEX - After a tough, physical game with Greenville the night before, the Richland Rebels came on strong but ultimately fell to the visiting Advance Hornets Friday night 69-53.
"I thought we played really well," Richland basketball coach Doyle Denbow said.
"But we got caught napping a few times with quick attacks instead of being ready all the time for the press. We can eat the press up if we're ready all the time."
The Rebels stunned Advance early going on a quick 4-2 run to start the game causing the Hornets to take a time out just 37 seconds into the game.
Advanced responded by going on a 6-0 run before Richland could adjust.
Richland adjusted quickly though and had the game tied with just under three minutes left in the quarter only for Advance to go on another six-point run and by the end of the quarter had amassed a 22-15 lead.
The rest of the half saw both teams play well with Richland hanging in with the heavily favored Hornets only for Advance to strike late in the quarter once again.
The Hornets ended up scoring the final six-points of the half to send them into the locker room with a 35-24 lead.
Even with their defense churning out turn-over after turn-over in the second half, the Rebels couldn't offset their offense's passing troubles, allowing Advance to build their lead up to 52-33 going into the final quarter.
As the game came to a close, Advance's lead had built up to 24-points.
Even with the Hornets already having the win locked up, Richland fought hard, continuing to close the deficit while going on a 8-1 run in the final three minutes but still falling 69-53.
"We got after them," Denbow said. "We played a good team tough. We could have gotten them if we we didn't have all the turn-overs we had."
With his team on the upswing Denbow's optimistic about his teams chances as a dark horse contender in the upcoming SCAA Tournament.
"I figure tournament time if we do what we're supposed to and do it right, we can give anybody a good ball game," Denbow remarked.
"Miracles happen. We could upset some of these good teams. We don't have the talent they have, but we have heart."
Jackie Smith came in with 12 points to lead the Rebels, followed by Gentry Herrion and John Griffin with nine apiece.
The Rebels will head to Portageville for their next game Tuesday night, followed by a three game home stand.
On the other side of the ball Jeremy Limbaugh led the Hornets with 16 points and went 6-for-6 from the line.
Coming in a close second was Drew Sherman with 15 points.
The Hornets were solid from the line, converting 13-of-17 free throw attempts as a team.
The Hornets stay on the road for their next game which is Tuesday at Zalma.