ROCKINGHAM — Shooting the basketball “with confidence” on Tuesday, the Richmond Senior High School boys’ basketball team collected another pivotal conference win.
Four nights after squeezing out a seven-point win over Jack Britt, the Raiders had no trouble finding the basket early and often against Hoke County High School.
Richmond used four double-digit scorers to coast past the Bucks 70-49. Junior wing Dylan Lewis topped the scoring chart with a 13-point performance, while fellow junior Nygie Stroman added 12 points, all in the first half.
Adding 10 points each in the win were junior point guard PJ McLaughlin and sophomore shooting guard Kellan Hood. Caleb Hood tallied eight points, with six coming in a big third quarter.
“From the tip, the guys played and shot the ball with confidence,” head coach Donald Pettigrew commented. “Everybody shot like they weren’t going to miss. Dylan came out aggressive and that’s what I’ve asked him to do all year.
“If the guys continue to play and shoot the way they did tonight, we’re going to be hard to stop,” he added. “I’m proud of how the guys had a good practice (on Monday) and came out ready to play tonight.”
Big on the mindset of “having fun” night in and night out, Pettigrew said a competitive game of dodgeball at the end of Monday’s practice helped fuel his team’s win over Hoke County (7-14, 2-9 SAC).
Both teams got off to a strong start, but Richmond pulled ahead late to take a 20-16 lead after the opening eight minutes. Lewis opened the game for the Raiders with a pair of triples from opposite sides of the floor, while Stroman went off for nine points, including a triple.
The Bucks were led by Jordan Maynor (16 points) and Ethan Langhart (15 points), and the pair combined for 10 of Hoke County’s 16 points in the first.
Stroman closed the quarter with Richmond’s final four points, throwing down a two-handed jam and adding a putback near the buzzer.
Helping break the game open in the second was an 8-0 run by the Raiders in the first 45 seconds. Stroman again found the rim, posterizing Ervin Everette with a one-handed slam to start the frame.
He added the free throw on the three-point play, while junior Jakolbe Baldwin added a shot underneath on the next possession. Kellan Hood, who was coming off his best performance of the season, landed the first of his two three-pointers.
Trailing 28-16, the Bucks’ largest deficit in the first half, the visiting team called a timeout with 7:14 to go. Hoke County added four points out of the break and kept Richmond off the board for nearly the next three minutes.
Lewis ended the scoreless streak with a floater in transition for Richmond and adding two points each were senior Jarvis Tillman and McLaughlin. At halftime, the Raiders held a comfortable 34-23 lead.
Seven Richmond players would find the basket as part of a 24-point explosion in the third frame, which ultimately put the game out of reach for the Bucks. Caleb Hood led the way with his final six points, all on field goals, while Lewis and McLaughlin added five more points apiece.
Other Raiders to score in the third were Kellan Hood, Tillman, Dalton Stroman and Jalen David. With just over a minute left in the third, David made a basket under the rim to give the Raiders a 30-point lead, 58-28.
It was too little, too late for the Bucks to make a comeback in the fourth. The Raiders added 12 points for good measure, five from Kellan Hood and four from Baldwin. For much of the final two minutes, the Raiders played keep away and Hoke County opted not to foul.
“The guys are having more fun right now, and that’s the important thing,” Pettigrew said. “Down the stretch, we took care of the ball, which was really big. Playing good at the right time can mean big things for us (heading into the postseason).
“Our mindset changes as the season winds down, it has to,” he continued. “We’re trying to play mistake-free ball and value every possession because that’ll be important in the conference tournament and the playoffs.”
The third-place Raiders (15-6, 8-3 SAC) will face their biggest test of the season when they travel to second-place Lumberton High School (17-3, 8-2 SAC) on Friday. Last month, Richmond suffered a 30-point loss on their home floor to the Pirates.
“I can promise you we’ll score more than nine points in the first half,” Pettigrew smiled. “But seriously, we’ll come ready to play with a sense of urgency. The guys will be ready because we know how bad that loss tasted last time.”
The Raiders and Pirates will get underway at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.