St. Al’s Richards, Patrick want to go out winners

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 6, 2000

This is the last in a series of local basketball previews.

Mollie Richards and Kristen Patrick know each other so well, they often finish each other’s sentences.

That closeness extends to the basketball court, where they often finish each other’s fastbreaks.

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“We just click,” said Richards, a 6-foot center. “We’ve played together forever.”

Patrick, a 5-8 point guard, said, “She’s always where I need her to be. That’s why I can do something like a no-look pass. I know she’ll be there.”

And Richards usually doesn’t have a problem finishing.

“She’s really strong underneath the goal,” Patrick said.

The two are expected to provide a powerful 1-2 punch for the Lady Flashes as they try for their third straight winning season. They are the only seniors on a team full of talented freshmen.

“It helps a lot that we are such good friends,” Richards said of their on-court telepathy.

“Sometimes, all I have to do is just give a flick of my finger or something and she knows what I’m going to do. We don’t have to say anything,” Patrick said.

Of course, that closeness sometimes has a downside.

“We have a lot of inside jokes,” Richards said as the two glanced at each other and laughed, “especially on the free-throw line. We pick on each other a lot.”

Both have been playing basketball since third grade, but this will likely be their last season to play competitively, so they want to make it count. Millsaps and Mississippi College have shown interest in them, but they have other college plans.

Richards wants to go to Mississippi State.

“I enjoy (basketball) a lot,” Richards said, but she wants to concentrate on academics then.

“I’ve never thought about playing (in college),” said Patrick, who wants to go to Ole Miss or LSU. “I’ve always just played for fun.”

It’s easy to see why college scouts would be interested.

Richards, a two-time All-County selection, averaged a double-double in each of the last two seasons, getting 15.4 points and 12.7 rebounds last season.

“She’s a good scorer and being a left-hander causes mismatches for her,” said first-year St. Al coach Paul Hayden. “She’s also a good shot-blocker. It’s unlimited how good she can become.”

Richards said she works on her game, especially her post play, by going against her brother Kyle, a 6-3 freshman, at home.

Patrick is a versatile point guard who averaged 12.7 points, 7.1 assists and 5.2 steals per game to make All-County last season. An inordinate number of those assists went to Richards, no doubt.

“Her passes are always just right to me,” Richards said.

“Her leadership and court awareness are amazing to watch,” Hayden added. “She’s a good ball-handler and she knows how to score.”

The two hope to use their skills to make up for last season’s disappointing loss to Salem in the first round of the division tournament. That was just a year after making it to the South State tournament and getting edged out by eventual Class 1A state champion Durant.

“This team has so much potential,” Patrick said. “Hopefully we’ll do better.”