SANFORD — Not letting an uncharacteristically slow second quarter shake its confidence, the Richmond Senior High School boys’ basketball team regrouped for a win on Tuesday.
Extending their winning streak to five games, the Raiders erased a two-point halftime deficit to earn a 74-63 win on the road at Lee County High School.
In a game full of scoring runs for both teams, Richmond let an 11-point lead at the start of the second quarter slip away before using a 13-1 stretch in the third quarter to regain control.
Senior Zion Baldwin had his best performance of the season, netting a season-high 18 points while also grabbing 16 rebounds. He nearly had a triple-double with six assists.
Not playing on Tuesday was junior shooting guard Paul McNeil Jr., who sat out one of his required games in order to remain eligible since transferring back to Richmond.
Three other Raiders reached double digits in the win, starting with juniors Javian Drake and Jullien Cole both netting 13 points. Drake also had four boards and three assists.
Freshman Jayden Hamilton scored 10 points, a player who head coach Donald Pettigrew credited for his defensive hustle.
Senior Dakota Chavis finished the game with nine points, six assists and five rebounds. Also scoring nine points was junior Jamarion Wall.
An 8-2 run to open the game for the Raiders saw Drake connect on a jumper and a transition layup. Chavis made an athletic drive through the paint for his first two points and Hamilton scored on a transition bucket.
Lee County (6-7, 0-4 SAC) pulled within a point, but Chavis gave the Raiders a cushion with a three-pointer from the right corner. That set off a 15-5 scoring run that ended in a 23-12 lead after the first eight minutes.
Adding to the lead was an old-fashioned three-point play by Cole, followed by a pair of putbacks on offensive rebounds by Baldwin. A Cole triple and another shot from down low from Baldwin capped the quarter.
The second period belonged to the Yellow Jackets, who outscored Richmond 23-10. A combination of quick transition points and three-pointers flipped the script to give the home team a 35-33 lead at halftime.
Dawson Buchanan netted a pair of triples for Lee County, and Malachi McLean scored 13 of his game-high 34 points in the second.
For Richmond, junior Dylan Lampley hit a baseline drive early in the quarter for his two points. Part of a 14-2 run by the Yellow Jackets, a drive from McLean gave the home team a 26-25 lead.
It wasn’t until Hamilton muscled his way back to the basket for two more points at the 3:51 mark that the Raiders scored again. Down three points less than a minute later, Hamilton spun his way through traffic to pull within a point.
Wall got on the board late in the half with a shot off the glass and a baseline jumper to put the Raiders ahead by two points with 1:12 to go. Lee County used two more buckets from McLean, including a layup at the buzzer, to take the lead.
Pettigrew credited the Raiders for “making adjustments” in the second half, seeing them outscore Lee County 20-9 in the third. Baldwin scored eight points in the period on three field goals and two free throws.
Three of Baldwin’s points came on a free throw and a putback, giving the Raiders a 41-40 lead with 5:33 to play. That proved to be the last lead change of the game.
Opening it up to a 53-44 advantage, Wall and Cole each netted a triple. Baldwin added his final four points and Wall hit a mid-range jumper at the buzzer to go into the fourth up nine points.
Drake, who didn’t score in the middle periods, came out firing in the fourth for his final nine points. He started with a three-ball from the right corner on the first possession and added six more points on drives.
Chavis rejoined the scoring with his final four points in the paint and Baldwin chipped in four points, including a dunk as the clock wound down. Both Hamilton and Cole scored their final two points in the game to seal the win.
Adding to McLean’s big night for the Yellow Jackets were 12 points from Jayden Hill and 10 points from Buchanan.
Richmond (12-2, 5-0 SAC) continues to sit at the top of the SAC standings following Tuesday’s win. The Raiders will play one more non-conference game this week.
Traveling to Red Springs High School on Saturday, the Raiders will play St. Pauls in the 6 p.m. game of the MLK Jr. tournament.