ROCKINGHAM — When Jullien Cole transferred to Richmond last summer, he told head basketball coach Donald Pettigrew he wanted to set the new program record for the most three-pointers in a game.
Less than a year later, and on the biggest stage to date, Cole did just that.
The journey toward a 4A state championship started off in a big way for the No. 2 Richmond Raiders on Tuesday, who used a running clock to defeat No. 31 Purnell Swett 96-57 in the first round.
Cole was hot from downtown all night, scoring a career-high 38 points. In the process, he netted 10 three-pointers, setting the new single-game program record by one triple.
With 20 seconds left in the third quarter, Cole hit his final three-ball on a dish from junior Jamarion Wall in front of Richmond’s bench.
Finishing the game 13-of-21 shooting, Cole surpassed his previous career-high of 35 points set earlier this season. He added six assists and three steals.
As a team, the Raiders splashed down a season-high 17 three-pointers, which were the most in a game since hitting the same number against Cheraw High School (2017) Orange High School (2015). From the field, Richmond shot 33-of-63 (52 percent).
Several other players contributed to the win, including a double-double from senior Zion Baldwin. He led the team with 12 rebounds and added 10 points, including a triple.
Paul McNeil Jr. netted 18 points, with 14 points coming in the third quarter. He dropped two three-pointers and notched five boards. Junior Javian Drake rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 first-half points.
Richmond came out ready to shoot the ball off the opening tip, jumping out to a 35-13 lead after the opening eight minutes.
Cole was responsible for 19 points in the first, draining five three-pointers. He added a putback and put an exclamation point on the high-scoring quarter with a dunk with 1:11 to play.
Four other Raiders scored, including six points from Baldwin. He opened the scoring with a three-pointer from the left corner and added a foul shot and a bucket under the rim.
Senior Dakota Chavis, who scored seven points in the win, scored a floater in the paint and completed a bucket and the foul for his first five points. Wall netted a three-pointer and Drake got on the board with a drive.
Richmond grew its lead to as many as 37 points, 52-15, in the second quarter. Drake led the way with his final nine points, scoring two field goals, two free throws and a triple.
Cole, Chavis and Wall each netted a bucket apiece, while Baldwin added two free throws. McNeil Jr., who didn’t find the basket until the 5:30 mark of the second quarter, recorded his first four points.
Leading 56-26 to start the third quarter, the Raiders would start the running clock as time expired.
Inbounding the ball, McNeil Jr. swished a three-quarter court shot into the hoop to make it an 89-49 advantage.
Both Cole and McNeil jr. capped their scoring in the third. Adding five more three-pointers was Cole, who also connected on two foul shots. In between quarters, Cole was swarmed by teammates when it was announced he’d broken the three-point record.
McNeil Jr. prefaced his impressive three-pointer with a field goal, four free throws and another triple. Baldwin rounded out his performance with two more points.
Pettigrew sat his starters for the entirety of the fourth quarter. Junior David McNair and sophomore Davion Ingram added a three-pointer apiece, and junior Toby McInnis connected on a free throw.
The Rams (12-14) were led in scoring by Connor Harris’ 13 points. Collin Sampson scored 10 points, with JaQuese Graham and Adarius Grissett both notching nine points.
The No. 2 Raiders (24-2) will host No. 15 Sanderson High School (19-7) in the second round on Thursday.
The Spartans defeated No. 18 Chapel Hill High School 53-48 in the first round, overcoming a halftime deficit. A time for Thursday’s game is to be determined at the time of publication.