Home Local Sports Lee County High School the site for No. 2 Richmond, No. 5...

Lee County High School the site for No. 2 Richmond, No. 5 Holly Springs in 4A East regional championship

Junior Javian Drake (3) takes a shot with freshman Jayden Hamilton (10) guarding him during Wednesday's practice. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — The North Carolina High School Athletic Association released the times and locations of the boys’ and girls’ basketball Final Four matchups on Wednesday.

No. 2 Richmond, the highest remaining seed in the 4A East bracket, will travel to Lee County High School and play at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The Raiders and head coach Donald Pettigrew will compete against No. 5 Holly Springs High School, a team that upset No. 1 seed New Hanover High School in the fourth round.

In recent years, the NCHSAA switched to a neutral site for the regional championships. Under the old format, Richmond would have hosted another home game.

Other locations that were considered for this year’s 4A East regional championship, which is Richmond’s first appearance since 2000-01, were Southern Lee, South Garner and South Johnston high schools.

In terms of mileage, Holly Springs (27-5) will have the “home court” advantage, located roughly 34 miles from Lee County. The Raiders (27-2) have a slightly longer trek at approximately 55 miles.

To Richmond’s benefit, the Raiders have played several games at Lee County the last few years since the two teams joined the same conference.

Pettigrew said the neutral site comes with the territory and it’s not something he or the team is concerned about.

“We’re not thinking about it too much,” Pettigrew said at Wednesday’s practice. “Both teams will have to play no matter what. I don’t think it’ll affect anybody because it’s the state semifinals and both teams will be up for it.”

One certainty for the team this winter has been the fan support of Richmond County. Thousands of fans have packed the gym all postseason, as well as during the regular season.

Not going unnoticed, players and coaches alike feed off the energy during games and hope the same level of intensity travels to the regional round.


“The neutral site is nothing more than another chance to play a meaningful game,” junior wing Paul McNeil Jr. said. “We just have to show up and play our game. It’s the fifth round and we’re so grateful and blessed to be here.

“I hope our fans will show up and be positive,” he added. “We feed off that energy and we’ll need that.”

Jayden Hamilton, a freshman starting guard, has enjoyed a lot of success this season, especially on the defensive end. New to the high school sports environment, he’s been impressed by the love shown by Raider Nation.

“At first I was a little nervous playing in front of a big crowd with all of our fans, but over the season it’s become so much fun,” Hamilton shared. “We love it as a team and it gives us so much confidence.

“Our fans mean a lot to us and we’re also playing for them,” he added. “They are a big part of how we’re able to play as a team.”

Richmond athletic director Rob Ransom said a Zoom meeting will be held on Thursday to discuss ticket sales, among other key information regarding the 4A East regional championship.

The 4A East girls’ regional championship between Hillside and Panther Creek high schools will also be played at Lee County, beginning at 2 p.m. 

After Tuesday’s 78-60 win over No. 6 Jordan, Pettigrew said a fan from Jordan told him that the atmosphere inside the gym wasn’t something the Falcons were used to.

“I hope the fans bring the energy because they’ve been amazing every game,” Pettigrew concluded. “They were super electric in the gym (against Jordan) and it was a complete frenzy.

“We appreciate all of our fans and we hope they’ll continue to support us on Saturday. We want them to be big, loud, crazy and have fun.”

The Richmond Observer will publish ticket information when it’s made available. A preview article of the game against Holly Springs will also be published.

Previous articleRCSO: Hamlet man caught with sawed-off rifle, hidden handguns
Next articleNC community colleges to offer quicker path to elementary teacher licensure
Kyle Pillar is a 22-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on X @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.