Saturday, 23 January 2021 19:25

Strong second half, Drake's career-high help Raiders sweep Rams

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ROSports File Photo: Head coach Kenta Hutchinson addresses the Raiders during a home game on Jan. 5. ROSports File Photo: Head coach Kenta Hutchinson addresses the Raiders during a home game on Jan. 5. Deon Cranford - The Richmond Observer.

PEMBROKE — The Richmond Senior High School boys’ junior varsity basketball team kept up its winning ways on Friday.

Making the trip east on Highway 74, the Raiders battled Purnell Swett High School for the second time this season. Although Richmond started slow, the visitors left with a 54-45 win.

The victory completed the regular season sweep of the Rams, and the Raiders improved to 4-0. Head coach Kenta Hutchinson said the team had to adjust to playing on the road in another challenging atmosphere.

“It was just another impressive win on the road and our guys battled the entire night,” Hutchinson said. “I told them coming in that the previous 22-point win against Purnell Swett didn’t mean anything and that they can never take any team lightly on their home court.

“Road games are always tough and the atmosphere was intense from start to finish,” he added. “We came out flat and they took advantage of our mistakes early, which kept Purnell Swett in the game.” 

With the game close during both halves, it was a 19-point fourth quarter effort by the Raiders that sealed the deal. Freshman point guard Javian Drake, who finished with a career-high 27 points, bookended his performance with strong scoring in the first and fourth quarters.

In Tuesday’s game at home against Lumberton, Drake hit a pair of game-winning free throws with less than a second on the clock. On Friday, he dropped 13 points in the opening frame and closed the door with 12 points in the fourth.

Freshman Jamison Jones contributed to the win with eight points and sophomore Zyion Baldwin and Emoni McBride finished with five and six points, respectively.

The Raiders worked themselves out to a 17-9 lead after the first eight minutes of play. Drake’s 13 points came on two triples, a field goal and five free throws. He was nearly perfect from the line, going 12-of-14 in the game.

Sophomore Xavier Wall and freshman Toby McInnis added to the early lead, each scoring a field goal in the first. Both players had two points in the game.

The Rams outscored the Raiders 13-7 in the second stanza to cut their halftime deficit to just two points, 24-22. Joquel Monroe hit one of his team-high three three-pointers for Purnell Swett, and teammates Waydan McMillan and Matthew McNeill each notched three points in the frame.

Hitting field goals for Richmond to keep pace were Baldwin, McBride and sophomore Zion Baldwin. Sophomore Zay Hubbard added a shot from the charity stripe.

Hutchinson said his players responded out of the halftime break, tacking on 11 points in the third. Jones nailed down one of his two second-half three-pointers, and Zyion Baldwin added three points with a field goal and free throw.

McBride and Drake combined for four points and Zion Baldwin capped his three-point game with a shot from the line.

In the fourth, Drake took control for Richmond by going a perfect 7-of-7 on free throws. He added a bucket and a final three-ball for 12 points in the frame. Jones added some insurance with five points, dropping a triple and a basket, and McBride recorded his final two points.

Purnell Swett wouldn’t go away easily, starting with Monroe tacking on his final five points. He led the Rams with 11 points in the game. Daniel Hunt and Marcus Lowry each rattled home a triple in the final quarter and McMillan scored two more points, but it wasn’t enough to catch Drake and the Raiders.

“We were finally able to pull away in the fourth to seal the deal with under two minutes left,” Hutchinson said. “JV Drake had a huge game offensively and defensively, and he just continues to find a way.

“His fourth quarter was huge, and he’s a smaller guy who plays big,” he closed. “I’m happy to see he’s found a groove and that he’s been a big part of our success in our last two matchups.”

The JV Raiders (4-0) will travel to Pinecrest High School on Tuesday and play the Patriots for the first time this season. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. after the junior varsity girls’ game.

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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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