Wednesday, 13 January 2021 14:09

Baldwin's double-double paces Raiders past Buccaneers

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Sophomore Zion Baldwin scored 26 points and recorded 18 rebounds in Richmond's win over Jack Britt. Sophomore Zion Baldwin scored 26 points and recorded 18 rebounds in Richmond's win over Jack Britt. Deon Cranford — The Richmond Observer.

FAYETTEVILLE — After only scoring four points in last week’s season opener, sophomore Zion Baldwin went off for the Richmond junior varsity boys’ basketball team on Tuesday.

The Raiders made the trip to Jack Britt High School and scored a season-high in points en route to an 80-39 victory. In the process, Baldwin recorded a double-double with a game-high 26 points and 18 rebounds.

Unlike their varsity counterparts, the JV Raiders were able to play their second game of the season despite much of the Sandhills Athletic Conference being impacted by COVID-19 protocols. Richmond’s win helped the team to a 2-0 start.

Head coach Kenta Hutchinson said the team was gracious to get the chance to play, and said his message ahead of time was for the team to spark its own energy.

“It was just another good team win and our first on the road,” Hutchinson said. “The guys had been eager to play since Friday’s home game was canceled. Traveling on the road is always tough, and with the idea of having no fans, we didn’t know what to expect. 

“I told the guys we had to create our own energy, playing for each other and cheering each other on. And for all 32 minutes, that’s exactly what we did.”

Two other Raiders would finish with double-digit points — freshmen Zay Hubbard and Javian Drake tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively. Sophomore Emoni McBride (nine points) and freshman Jamison Jones (seven points) contributed to the offensive attack. 

Hutchinson stressed to his team to get off to a fast start, and in the first five minutes of play Richmond held a 17-7 lead. Drake scored all 10 of his points during that span, and is a player who has helped establish the rhythm of games this season.

“JV (Drake) set the tone early again on defense forcing five turnovers within the game’s opening minutes and that helped us jump out 11-0,” Hutchinson said.

 “I was really impressed with Zion — he was just a man amongst boys. He can do it all and he has a motor like no other JV guy I’ve seen.” 

Baldwin started his night with six points in the first quarter and McBride splashed down a three-pointer. Sophomore Xavier Wall connected for two of his six total points.

Richmond outscored the Buccaneers 19-8 in the second stanza, getting 11 more points from Baldwin. McBride, Wall and Hubbard each added a bucket and Jamerson Walton notched two of his five points.

Hutchinson pulled many of his starters after the Raiders went up big at the break, 43-15.

The only quarter that Richmond didn’t outpace the Bucs was the third, which saw the home team net 13 points to the Raiders’ nine. Jones, who scored all of his points in the second half, started with a bucket.

Hubbard led the way in the third with three points, scoring a field goal and adding a free throw. Wall capped his night with a final bucket and Baldwin added two more points to his final tally.

Richmond put the game away with an impressive fourth quarter, netting 28 points in the final eight minutes of play. Seven different players would find the hoop, including a team-best seven points from Hubbard.

Jones tacked on his final five points, and Baldwin, McBride and freshman Tristan Wall each added four points. Walton hit a bucket and a shot from the charity stripe and sophomore Zyion Baldwin hit a pair of free throws for his two points.

Now Richmond will gear up for another road game on Friday, playing at Hoke County High School, another tough SAC opponent.

“We’re just looking to keep moving forward and progressing along the way,” Hutchinson said. “Friday’s matchup is against a good friend of mine, John Rich, so those games always mean a little more.  

“Friday will prove what type of team we really are. Hoke county is always a hostile environment and their guys always come to compete.”

Deon Cranford and Kyle Pillar contributed to this article.

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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