Home Local Sports Quick Hits: No. 2 Richmond ready for ‘physical’ familiar foe No. 7...

Quick Hits: No. 2 Richmond ready for ‘physical’ familiar foe No. 7 Lumberton

Junior Javian Drake, who's averaging 12.5 PPG this postseason, drives the lane for two points against Sanderson. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — A familiar foe will be the No. 2 Richmond Raiders’ next challenge in the third round of the 4A East state playoffs.

Former conference opponent Lumberton High School, which is the No. 7 seed, will make the trip to Rockingham on Saturday.

Richmond advanced to at least the third round for the second straight year following Tuesday’s 74-64 win over No. 15 Sanderson High School. 

The Pirates made their way to the next round of the bracket by defeating No. 10 New Bern High School 67-52 on Tuesday.

Head coach Donald Pettigrew said the Raiders are familiar with the Pirates, but noted that each team is different every season.

He expects another defensive battle, similar to the one the Raiders and Spartans engaged in during the second round.

“They’re a defensive-minded team that plays good team defense,” Pettigrew said. “They have a couple of shooters and their best player is their point guard (JaMerl) Brockington. It’ll be another game where we face another heck of a guard and we have to come ready to play.

“It’ll be a battle, it won’t be easy,” he added. “Lumberton is also a really physical team, so we have to match that intensity.”

Two games into the postseason, the Raiders are averaging 85 points per game on offense, while allowing 60.5 points per contest. 

Pettigrew expressed to the team during Friday’s practice the importance of tightening up on defense as Richmond gets deeper into the playoffs.

“We just need to play better team defense,” Pettigrew noted in reference to Thursday’s win over Sanderson. “The guys have to do a better job of stepping in instead of reaching. That’s something we’ve struggled with all season.

Advertisements

“Now, as we keep going on, it’s got to be the best defense we’ve played all year. As a team we have to be able to make adjustments during the game.”

A slow start to Thursday’s game saw the Raiders shoot 10-of-35 in the first half before finishing 15-of-27 in the final two periods. Wanting to be a first-half team that controls the tempo of the game, Pettigrew is still confident in the Raiders’ ability to produce on offense.

Junior Jullien Cole has been the offensive catalyst so far, averaging 34 PPG in the playoffs, while draining an impressive 18 three-pointers in the two victories.

Fellow junior Paul McNeil Jr. has averaged 19 points a game this postseason, while junior Javian Drake is also averaging double digits at 12.5 PPG.

When asked if he was making any changes ahead of the Lumberton game, Pettigrew said the key will be to continue to get open looks.

“I try to let the guys be themselves and shoot the ball,” Pettigrew explained. “They work so hard, and I know our offense will be there. I really just want the team to focus on defense and rebounding.”

Also set to play their third game in five days, Pettigrew isn’t concerned with the team’s focus or fatigue. 

“I don’t think there’s a lot of fatigue, they’re teenagers with a lot of energy,” he closed. “I’ve been there before as a player and I don’t think they think about it, just the grown ups. Every team is playing the same amount of games, we just have to be ready.”

Tip-off between No. 2 Richmond (25-2) and No. 7 Lumberton (24-5)  is set for 6 p.m. in Raider Gymnasium. 

Below are some quick hits about the Lumberton Pirates:

  • The Pirates are coached by Bryant Edwards and are 10-3 while playing on the road this winter.
  • Lumberton was the 4A co-state champion during the 2019-2020 season, not playing in the title game because of the pandemic.
  • Richmond and Lumberton have met 11 times during Pettigrew’s six-year tenure. During that span, Richmond has won four games, including the last meeting 51-45 on Jan. 15, 2022.
  • Lumberton finished second in the 3A/4A United 8 Conference standings in the regular season, but was the top 4A school with a 13-2 record.
  • Average 63.7 points per game, while allowing 47.5 points against. In 14 games, the Pirates have held their opponents to 45 points or less. Richmond averages 78.6 points per game and allows 53.2 points per contest.
  • Brockington leads the team with 17.7 points and 9.8 assists per game as the point guard.
  • Two other players, seniors Jacob Hammonds (forward, 11.0 PPG) and Tre Lewis (guard, 10.9 PPG) average double figures.
  • Lumberton’s top rebounders are Lewis (11.7 RPG) and Brockington (8.3 RPG).
  • Against New Bern, Lumberton erased a 33-26 halftime hole. Hammonds had 24 points and Brockington added 16 points. Lewis recorded a double-double with 10 points and 14 boards.

Follow The Richmond Observer on Twitter @ROSports_ for live updates.