Home Local Sports UPSET: No. 14 Raiders tame No. 3 Huskies in playoff opener

UPSET: No. 14 Raiders tame No. 3 Huskies in playoff opener

Richmond's Nygie Stroman (10) drives past Julius Peacock for two of his 25 points in Tuesday's upset win.
Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

WAKE FOREST — Entering Tuesday’s opening round of the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs, the No. 14 Richmond Raiders were noted as one of the “toughest” wildcard teams to make the East bracket this postseason.

In pure Raider Magic fashion, the Raiders imposed their toughness and tamed the No. 3 Heritage High School Huskies to pull off the 68-64 upset win. 

The four-point win marked the third time in as many seasons that Richmond and head coach Donald Pettigrew advanced to the second round. 

Taking down Heritage (10-3), the regular-season first-place finisher in the Northern Athletic Conference, the Raiders used big shooting performances from senior Nygie Stroman and freshman Paul McNeil. 

Stroman netted 25 points, four points shy of tying his career high, and had 20 points in the first half. McNeil added 21 points, and both Raiders added five rebounds to their stat sheet.

“I got my first couple shots to fall and when that happened, that gave me the confidence to keep pulling,” Stroman explained. “I felt really comfortable during my drill yesterday with my three-pointer, and I knew that would be a big factor in tonight’s game.

“We knew we could win tonight and that we would be underestimated because we were a wildcard,” he added. “None of that matters and we showed that with a great team win.”

Coming back from missing the Sandhills Athletic Conference third-place game on Friday, Stroman helped set the tone early with 12 points in the first quarter. He scored Richmond’s first seven points of the game before going on a five-point run to close the quarter. 

“When I helped set the tone with scoring early, (Heritage) put their main guy on me,” Stroman said. “That lit the fire under the rest of my teammates to attack the rim and score.”

The only time the Raiders (8-4) trailed was in the opening minutes of the game, but Stroman hit the first of his four first-half three-pointers to put the Raiders up 5-3 with 6:40 left in the frame.

Freshman Jamarion Wall, who finished with 11 points, scored six points in the first quarter to give the Raiders a 20-15 lead after the opening eight minutes.

Richmond outpaced the Huskies 18-9 in the second quarter, using eight more points from Stroman, including two more triples. McNeil added five points to close out the half, including a three-pointer from the left wing with 35 seconds on the clock.

Entering the locker room on a 10-2 run, the Raiders held their biggest lead of the night, 38-24. Heritage’s Lucas Taylor, who had a game-high 36 points, notched 17 points before halftime.

“In the first half we came out with a lot of intensity,” Pettigrew said. “We shot the ball well, moved it around the floor and on defense we allowed some shots but overall we had a lot of energy. We came ready to play.

“We don’t look at the seeding and like I’ve said before, the guys work so hard and we believe we can compete with any team in the state,” he added. “We had an opportunity to jump ahead early and that helped us.”


The Huskies switched the game’s momentum to open the third quarter, going on a 7-0 run in the opening two minutes. Following a Richmond timeout at the 6:16 mark, Wall hit a three-pointer to stop the bleeding.

Another 7-0 run by Heritage cut its deficit to three points, 41-38, with 4:23 to play. Again, Wall opened Richmond’s lead with a putback on an offensive rebound. 

Stroman scored three more points, McNeil added a bucket and senior Dylan Lewis drove the lane for two of his seven total points to keep the Raiders up 50-42 after the third. McNeil tipped a shot off the glass at the buzzer.

“The third quarter was a little shaky and we let them go on a run,” Pettigrew explained. “We didn’t score on our first couple of possessions, but that’s part of the playoffs. I wanted the guys to stay relaxed and to keep playing even when (Heritage) went on the run.

“Our guys didn’t hang their heads and I’m proud of that,” he added. “We figured things out and kept scoring when we needed to.”

Following a pair of free throws from senior point guard Patrick McLaughlin at the halfway point of the fourth quarter, Richmond led 59-50. At the 3:26 mark, the Raiders entered the bonus and McNeil added a shot from the line for one of his 12 fourth-quarter points.

The Huskies wouldn’t go away quietly, closing the gap to two points, 66-64, on a drive from Taylor with just over a minute to play. 

Inside 30 seconds, Stroman forced a contested shot by Taylor, but he turned the ball over on a travel call with 8.8 seconds left. On the ensuing inbound, McNeil was fouled and he drilled both of his one-and-one shots with 7.3 ticks left to seal the deal.

“It was a big win for us and our mentality is to win for Jalen (David),” McNeil said. “We’re trying to get to the state championship and that’s our mindset right now. 

“We played really tough and we were physical,” he continued. “The team drove the ball well late and we got some big rebounds. And I was able to hit those late free throws to help us win.”

Lewis led the Raiders with six rebounds and added an assist. McLaughlin dished out four assists and also notched four boards to go along with his four points.

Adding to Taylor’s big night was Spivey and his 14 points, Justin Monden added nine points for the Huskies and Julius Peacock netted six points in the loss.

“Nygie is a player who is tough and this is the best time of year for him,” Pettigrew said. “We needed this out of him and played sharp all night. Paul played good and helped close it out. PJ is our coach on the floor and he played all 32 minutes tonight.

“It was a good team win,” he closed. “We’ll celebrate tonight but get back in the gym tomorrow and get ready for the second round.”

No. 14 Richmond will gear up to play No. 6 Apex Friendship High School (15-0) in the second round of the playoffs on Thursday. The Patriots defeated No. 11 Hoggard High School 61-30 on Tuesday.

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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.