Home Local Sports Strong defense creates scoring opportunities for Raiders in win over Hoke County

Strong defense creates scoring opportunities for Raiders in win over Hoke County

Jullien Cole (24) and Paul McNeil Jr. (2) both scored double figures in Richmond's win over Hoke County. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — Showing a little rust coming off a 17-day hiatus between games, the Richmond Raider basketball team used a defensive-minded second half to earn a win on Tuesday.

Continuing Sandhills Athletic Conference play, and returning to the court for the first time since Dec. 17, the Raiders coasted to an 83-51 victory over Hoke County High School.

In front of a big crowd, which included N.C. State head men’s basketball coach Kevin Keatts, the Raiders set the tone from the opening possession. 

Junior wing Paul McNeil Jr., who has an official offer from the Wolfpack, knocked down a three-pointer from the left corner to set the scoring in motion. He finished with a game-high 20 points and had eight rebounds.

The Raiders used three other double-digit scorers to stay undefeated in conference play. 

Junior guard Javian Drake scored 17 points and had four rebounds, freshman guard Jay Hamilton had a new career-high 16 points and junior shooting guard Jullien Cole finished with 14 points and seven boards.

Freshman Jay Hamilton (10) scored a career-high 16 points in Tuesday’s win. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

McNeil and Hamilton accounted for seven points each in the first quarter, giving the Raiders a 20-6 lead. Both hit a three-pointer early and followed with a field goal.

Drake split the scoring with a three-pointer from the right corner, part of a 13-2 run to open the game. In the closing two minutes, McNeil and Hamilton each added a transition basket and junior Jamarion Wall scored a triple, the first of his five points.

A closer second quarter saw Richmond outscore the Bucks 19-18. McNeil added to his 15 first-half points with an old-fashioned three-point play and another close-range shot in the opening minute.


Hamilton drained a three-pointer from the left corner, extending Richmond’s lead to 28-10. A pair of steals by Drake on consecutive possessions led to four fastbreak points to maintain the team’s largest lead of the first half.

In the closing four minutes, Hoke County (4-11, 1-2 SAC) put up 10 points to Richmond’s seven. Helping give the Raiders a 39-24 lead at the break were another Hamilton layup, a McNeil free throw and dunk, along with Cole’s first bucket following a steal.

Junior Paul McNeil Jr. (2) throws down a one-handed dunk in the first half. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Four players combined for 17 points in the third quarter, led by Cole who scored eight more points. He had a triple, a field goal and three free throws.

Drake added six more points to his total with a trio of close-range baskets and McNeil connected on another three-pointer. 

Senior guard Dakota Chavis, who scored all eight of his points in the second half, got on the board with a free throw.

Richmond’s highest-scoring quarter was the final stanza, a 25-point spurt that helped put the game away. Chavis led the way with seven points on a pair of layups and a three-point play.

Cole, Drake and Hamilton each netted their final four points, all coming on field goals. McNeil and Wall had two points apiece and junior David McNair added a three-pointer.

Junior Javian Drake (3) passes the ball during the first half of Richmond’s win, which saw him score 17 points. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Continuing their three-game week, the Raiders (9-2, 2-0 SAC) will travel to Pinecrest High School (5-5, 0-0 SAC) on Wednesday. 

The make-up game from last month, which features last year’s top two teams in the conference, is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.