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Fourth Round Bound: No. 2 Raiders sink No. 7 Pirates for 19th straight win

Senior Zion Baldwin, drives the lane and is fouled, setting up Richmond's first points of the game, which started a 17-0 run. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — Facing an early three-point deficit, senior Zion Baldwin netted six straight points, including a breakaway jam, to set the No. 2 Richmond Raiders’ third-round 4A Est playoff win in motion on Saturday.

Playing host to No. 7 Lumberton High School, Richmond and head coach Donald Pettigrew advanced to the fourth round for the second consecutive season behind a 72-59 victory.

Heading into the game, Pettigrew expected a defensive battle. 

While at times early on the Pirates, a former conference opponent of Richmond, showed some grit, the Raiders’ team defense and explosive offense was too much. 

The victory was Richmond’s 26th of the season, tying the program record for the most in a single campaign, which was set last year. The Raiders also extended their program-best winning streak to 19 games.

Baldwin’s early run paved the way to a 17-0 scoring stretch by Richmond to finish the final 3:56 of the first quarter. 

Leading the team in points was junior wing Paul McNeil Jr., who scored 21 points and added 10 rebounds. After not scoring last game, Baldwin was pivotal with 15 points and a team-high 14 boards.

Senior Zion Baldwin dunks the ball during a 17-0 run in the first quarter. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

While seven different Raiders scored in the win, two others reached double figures — juniors Jullien Cole (11 points) and Javian Drake (10 points).

Lumberton’s JaMerl Brockington led all scorers with 27 points, 10 more points than his season average. The Pirates finished the season with a 24-6 overall record.

Following Baldwin’s four free throws and dunk, McNeil Jr. started his scoring with a three-pointer. That created a big celebration from the bench and forced Lumberton to call a timeout with 2:20 left in the first.

Out of the break, the momentum stayed in Richmond’s favor. Cole made an easy basket after stealing an inbound pass and Drake capped the big run with a pair of triples from the right side in the final 1:45.

Junior Javian Drake pulls up for one of his two first-quarter three-pointers. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

With Richmond leading 17-3, the Pirates responded with a 9-0 run to start the second. Brockington, Jacob Hammonds (12 points) and Jaiden Shephard (11 points) contributed to the nine unanswered points to pull with five, 17-12.

But that two possession deficit would be as close as the Pirates would get on the scoreboard the rest of the game.

The remaining 6:03 of the second stanza saw the Raiders use six different players to go on a 15-7 spurt. Leading by as many as 18 points, Richmond carried a 32-19 advantage into halftime.

Drake started the run by hitting his third and final triple off the bench, and following a jumper by Shephard, McNeil Jr. made an athletic bucket after grabbing an offensive rebound and spinning it off the glass.

That ignited a 12-0 rush that lasted for two minutes. Baldwin scored two more on a putback and McNeil Jr. got the crowd on its feet when he elevated for a one-handed jam.


Cole added his final of four first-half points on two free throws, followed by a drive through the paint by senior Dakota Chavis (7 points) and a baseline jumper from junior Jamarion Wall for his two points.

Brockington ended the Pirates’ scoring drought with 25 seconds left in the period, hitting a three-pointer. A basket at the buzzer by Lumberton made it a 13-point lead for the Raiders.

Paul McNeil Jr. hits a triple in the second quarter, three of his team-high 21 points. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

A back-and-forth third quarter resulted in Richmond outpacing the Pirates 21-16. 

An 11-5 start by Richmond saw the Raiders penetrate the Pirates’ defense down low, starting with a McNeil Jr. drive. Freshman Jayden Hamilton, who again had another strong defensive performance, was rewarded with a three-pointer from the right corner.

Scoring the next six points after a Shephard layup, Richmond used a Cole baseline drive, a tip by McNeil Jr. at the rim and another Chavis drive.

A 5-0 run by Baldwin that featured a trey in front of the Raiders’ bench and a putback, made Richmond’s lead 23 points, its largest of the game, 48-25, with 2:42 left in the third.

Cole added his final five points in the game on a drive and a three-pointer from the left wing.

Junior Jullien Cole shouts in celebration after connecting on a three-pointer in the third quarter. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Lumberton made a late push, outscoring Richmond 25-19 in the final eight minutes. But McNeil Jr. kept Richmond ahead when he scored his final 10 points on a triple, two field goals and three free throws.

Hamilton notched the final three of his six points on a drive and a free throw (final point for Richmond), and Chavis rattled in a trio of shots from the line. Adding a bucket was Baldwin and Drake dropped in a free throw.

In the win, Chavis had six rebounds and Baldwin swiped three steals. As a team, Richmond shot 25-of-59 from the field (42 percent), 8-of-21 from three-point land (38 percent) and 14-of-21 from the line (67 percent).

Freshman Jayden Hamilton (10) and junior Jamarion Wall (15) force a turnover. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Looking to make it to the Eastern Regionals for the first time since 2000-01, the No. 2 Raiders (26-2) will host No. 6 Jordan High School (21-9) on Tuesday.

The No. 6 Falcons shook up the 4A East bracket with an 85-80 upset over No. 3 Millbrook High School in the third round on Saturday. A game time will be published when it’s released.

The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of Saturday’s win shortly, as well as a preview for the fourth-round game with Jordan.