Home Local Sports McNeil Jr. hits half-century mark for Raiders in blowout win over First...

McNeil Jr. hits half-century mark for Raiders in blowout win over First Flight

ROSports File Photo: Paul McNeil Jr., shown during a game last week, connected on seven three-pointers during his 50-point game against First Flight. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

KILL DEVIL HILLS — The Richmond Raiders took flight and soared over their competition to win their third straight game to start the season on Friday.

Using a single-game career-high 50 points from senior wing Paul McNeil Jr., coupled with 17 rebounds from the N.C. State signee, the Raiders downed First Flight High School 90-45.

Participating in day three of four of the Good Guys vs. Cancer event at First Flight, Richmond and head coach Donald Pettigrew netted a season-high in points (previously 74 points).

It was the first time Richmond reached the 90-point mark in a game since dropping 96 points against Purnell Swett High School in the first round of last season’s NCHSAA 4A playoffs.

McNeil Jr., who outscored the entire First Flight team, shot 21-of-34 from the field (61.8%), including 7-of-12 from three-point land (58.3%). 

The seven made triples tied his single-game career-high and his 17 rebounds were two shy of tying his career best.

Adding to the offensive onslaught was a season-high 18 points from senior point guard Javian Drake (8-of-14, 57.1%). He added five assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Six other Raiders found the basket in the win — senior Jamarion Wall (5), junior Keyonta Davis (5), senior Braylon Barfield (4), sophomore Jayden Hamilton (4), senior Jada Zimmerman (2) and junior Ahaiver McDonald (2).

Hamilton also contributed in the assist department, dishing out five helpers to his teammates.

Pettigrew said going into the game that Richmond’s plan was to get the Nighthawks (1-3) off their game from beyond the arc. That approach worked, holding First Flight to 5-of-33 from downtown (15%).

“Tonight our defensive pressure was really good,” Pettigrew explained. “We wanted to speed them up and run them off the three-point line. (First Flight) is a really good three-point shooting team and once we started communicating better, we did a good job shutting them down.

“Paul came out aggressive,” he continued. “Before the game he said he was going to play that way. He shot 7-of-12 on three-pointers and had a great night from the field. JV (Drake) also had a great night shot better in the second half.”

Entering the game, McNeil Jr.’s previous single-game career-high was 41 points. He did that two different times against Union Pines High School, once as a sophomore and once as a junior.


The Raiders led the entire game and their best scoring run was 17 points in the fourth quarter. 

Richmond took a 24-8 lead after the first quarter and opened its lead to 41-17 at halftime. McNeil Jr. drained a buzzer-beater from half court to give him 24 points at the break.

“What worked well for me was being in attack mode,” McNeil Jr. said. “I was getting to my spots and was locked in on my shots. I think I did a good job of knowing when and when not to shoot and made the right reads.

“I was really angry so I used that as motivation,” he added. “My mindset was to keep going and that there was no love lost.”

A 27-16 scoring stretch during the third quarter moved Richmond’s advantage to 68-33 after three complete. Closing out the final eight minutes, the Raiders added 22 points to the Nighthawks’ 12 points.

Richmond scored 45 points in the paint and had 17 second-chance points. A total of 23 points came off fastbreaks.

Leading First Flight in scoring were Mason Dobie and Carson Hahne, who each netted 14 points.

The Raiders (3-0) will finish their two-game run at the Good Guys vs. Cancer event on Saturday against John Marshall High School (1-1). Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m.

The Justices, based in Richmond, Va., are the reigning Virginia High School League’s Class 2 state champions. They lost to Myers Park High School on Friday.

“We have to play even better tomorrow,” Pettigrew closed. “We’re playing one of the top teams in the nation. They’ve got some big shooters so we just have to come ready to play with the same energy and see what happens.”

McNeil Jr. noted that the team “needs to stay focused, rebound and score in transition more, and close out better,” in order to hand the Justices their second loss in as many days.

Sports editor’s note: Statistics and game information were provided by Donald Pettigrew, Keith Parsons and Hoop State Network.

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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.