Cotton fields fly by on the drive to the gym at Northern Nash High School in Rocky Mount, N.C. That’s what home looks like for Wakefield Coach Marcia Richardson. 

For years she’s been trying to get her Warriors of Arlington County down to face her alma mater in a central North Carolina county of 95,000 people, and for years she’s struck out. It’s hard to find room for a game four hours south in the middle of the season. And it’s hard to know whether the Warriors and Knights will be competitive. 

“I’ve been trying to do that over the past couple years and it didn’t always work out, but this year we stayed on it and made it happen,” Richardson said. “I really wanted this group of seniors to get that opportunity.”

The Wakefield team used the long weekend to get away, and arrived in Rocky Mount on Friday in time to do some exploring and practicing before a game on Saturday.

The Warriors walked away with a 50-33 win.

“We gave them a good ballgame,” Richardson said.

But the Nash County community came out to celebrate Richardson and welcome her home. Years ago, the school years ago retired her jersey to honor her all-American season. 

Saturday, administrators presented her with a section of the gym’s old bleachers.

Richardson grew up in a family of 15, and her 12 brothers and sisters taught her to play basketball. Her nieces and nephews packed a full section of the stands to see her Wakefield team (12-2), which is off to a hot start in Virginia Conference 13.

“For them to walk into that gym to see, they retired my jersey at Northern Nash, to see that and to be around my family, to see the cotton fields when we were driving to the gym, hopefully it helped them to understand that everyone’s journey is different,” Richardson said. 

From Northern Nash, Richardson went on to star for Maryland women’s basketball team. She’s the program’s eighth all-time leading scorer and helped the Terrapins to three Atlantic Coast Conference championships and a 1982 Final Four appearance. She was inducted into the Maryland Hall of Fame in October, and several players joined her in College Park for the induction ceremony.

“It was an awesome experience for me,” she said. “I’m so lucky I got to share it with my girls.”

Wakefield is looking to build on a 17-7 campaign last year that won Richardson the conference’s coach of the year award.

Senior forward Lyrin Hatcher entered the game Saturday averaging 15.5 points per game and coming off a season-high 26-point performance against Marshall on Jan. 10. The Warriors face Falls Church on Tuesday night. 

(Video by Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)
The Big number: 376

Days since the No. 1 Paul VI girls’ basketball team has lost a game. It came on Jan. 7, 2016 at Good Counsel. The Panthers trounced the Falcons last week in the 2017 rematch. 

Northern Virginia player of the week

G Mary Clougherty, Chantilly, Sr.

Clougherty scored a game-high 26 points in the No. 12 Chargers’ nail-biting win over No. 20 Herndon on Friday night. None were bigger than her four-point play — a three-pointer plus the foul shot — with 4.8 seconds left to win the game.