RAEFORD, N.C. – In what can be defined as a bit of a disappointing start for the Richmond Senior High School varsity Raiders basketball team, its woes continued Friday as it dropped its fourth straight game to reigning conference champion Hoke County High School 92-69.
The Raiders (1-5, 1-2 Sandhills Athletic Conference) allowed a season high in points to the Bucks (9-1, 4-0 SAC), as they remained winless on the road, now dropping their fourth straight away game. Anticipating a tough matchup against the Bucks, first-year head coach Donald Pettigrew said that Friday’s loss wasn’t all bad news, as he continued to see his team work out its early-season kinks.
With Richmond familiarizing itself with a new coach, a different system (focused more on defense) and a swarm of underclassmen earning lots of playing time, the focus right now, according to Pettigrew, is to continue to develop and create depth on the bench.
“Our guys played hard (tonight), but we need to continue to get better and more consistent on offense and defense,” Pettigrew said.
Pettigrew mixed things up Friday, as he awarded junior guard Jordyn Wall and sophomore center Jarvis Tillman their first roles of the season in the starting five rotation. Joining them were junior guards Xavier Pettigrew and Malik Stanback, as well as senior forward Malik Flowers.
Richmond did see four players reach double-digit scoring, including Stanback (14 points), Flowers (11 points), senior guard Da’Shaun Wallace (11 points) and Pettigrew (10 points).
The first quarter was a closely contested frame, as the Raiders managed to collect 11 points and only trail the Bucks 18-11 heading into the second quarter. Stanback, who has been a great addition from beyond the arch to this year’s squad, had his second straight team-leading Friday night performance as he netted a team-high four three-pointers.
But, as Pettigrew would note, his team’s second-quarter performance was where “it went downhill.” Following an apparent knee injury to Pettigrew in the second quarter that caused him to leave the game and not return, the Raiders added 15 more points to their own score.
However, running a fast-paced, high-scoring system vaguely familiar to Richmond’s under former coach David Laton, the Bucks surged ahead on the scoreboard, as they tallied 37 points in the second stanza (which has been the most allowed by Richmond in any single quarter through its first six games).
Despite getting six points apiece from Pettigrew (before his injury) and Wallace (who came off the bench), it was no match for a trio of Bucks who each scored at least 10 points, and the all of the team’s 37 points in the second frame. Hoke’s senior Silas Love led the quarter with 14 points (including two three-pointers), and was helped out by senior Dakari Johnson (13 points) and freshman Jaquantae Harris (10 points).
Harris, who didn’t get on the board until the second quarter, led all scorers on the night with 21 points, while Johnson’s 18 total points were the game’s second highest tally. Heading into the locker room at halftime, Richmond trailed by a season-worst 29 points, 55-26.
“It was back and forth in the first quarter, but after the first quarter, it was all downhill (for us),” Pettigrew noted. “They (Hoke) were really good in their transition game and applied a lot of pressure. When we went to go back down the court, they already had three guys in place.
“We need to do a better job (in transition),” Pettigrew added.
The second half was a different story, as the Raiders managed to find their click offensively and outscored the Bucks 43-37. But the first-half deficit was too big, and that momentum ultimately carried Hoke to its ninth win, which is tied with Pinecrest High School for the SAC lead.
Flowers, whose size and strength in the post are his best qualities, finally had a breakthrough night, as his 10 points were his most in a game this season.
“Malik had a great game tonight,” Pettigrew said. “He had a dunk on one of their (Hoke’s) big guys, and that got things going for us.
“I told him that I was expecting him to find his stride, and he did that tonight,” Pettigrew added.
Ten total Richmond players scored in the second half, including Stanback scoring 11 of his 14 points, which included three three-pointers and a field goal. Flowers collected eight of his 10 points in the second half, while junior guards Roderick Newton and Mycah Wilson each added a three-pointer.
Also making his varsity debut for the Raiders was freshman Caleb Hood, who was called up from the junior varsity squad this week. He finished the night with four points. Pettigrew explained that Hood “adds depth at the guard position” and has “great (basketball) IQ and knowledge.”
Richmond will look to re-enter the win column next week before holiday break, as they’ll return home to host non-conference opponent Southern Lee High School on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Raider Gym.