Saturday, 20 February 2021 17:19

McNeil, Raiders soar past Falcons

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The Raiders' Paul McNeil scored a game high 28 points during Friday night's game against Seventy-First. The Raiders' Paul McNeil scored a game high 28 points during Friday night's game against Seventy-First. Deon Cranford

ROCKINGHAM — In the Sandhills Athletic Conference Boys Basketball Tournament third-place game between No. 3 Richmond and No. 5 Seventy-First, the underclassmen put on a scoring clinic for the few onlookers that were allowed into Raider gym. 

Richmond freshman Paul McNeil and Jamarion Wall along with Seventy-First sophomore Jared Davis combined to score more than half of the game’s total points, with the Raiders coming out on top 67-62.

McNeil, who ended the game with 28 points, and Wall, who finished with 18, were open targets for Raider senior point guard Patrick McLaughlin all night. McLaughlin found the duo open down court seven times for fast-break points and connected with them numerous times under the net and around the perimeter.

Meanwhile, Davis, who finished with 20 for the Falcons, did all he could do to keep his team in the game including an impressive half-court buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter.

Early on, no one would’ve thought that individual scoring statistics would highlight the evening. Richmond trailed 13-8 with under two and-a-half minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Raiders had a temporary boost with McNeil, Wall, junior Deshon Watson and senior Dylan Lewis all contributing to a 9-5 run to bring the Raiders to within one at the end of the first quarter.

Lewis, who was a huge defensive presence in the game for the Raiders, opened the second quarter with a quick score to give the Raiders a 19-18 advantage, but it would take nearly five and-a-half minutes for the Raiders to score again. The drought finally came to an end when McLaughlin found fellow senior Travis Thomas under the net with 1:59 remaining in the half. McLaughlin scored his first points of the game moments later with a layup to knot the game at 23-all.

Five quick points from Davis for the Falcons and another basket by McLaughlin rounded out the first half scoring and sent Seventy-First into the break with a 28-25 advantage.

After McNeil and Davis traded baskets early in the third quarter, the Raiders took over. Wall connected on a pair of free throws and then McNeil turned four Seventy-First turnovers into eight points in just 58 seconds, forcing the Falcons to take a timeout.

McLaughlin, who had two steals during McNeil’s run, picked Seventy-First’s pockets again right after the timeout and found Wall down court for another quick score capping a 14-2 run and giving the Raiders a 39-30 lead with three minutes left in the third.

Seventy-First scored the next five points, but Wall matched the Falcons with a 3-pointer and a layup with just four seconds left on the clock, which appeared to keep Richmond’s 9-point advantage intact.  That’s when Davis gave the Falcons new life with his buzzer beater cutting Richmond’s lead to 44-38 at the end of the third.

Richmond seemed to be in control when its advantage increased to 13, it’s largest of the game at 61-48, with only 2:20 remaining. Seventy-First refused to go away— scoring seven straight points, reducing its deficit to six at 61-55 with 55.7 seconds left in the game. McLaughlin was clutch down the stretch, connecting on four free throws to preserve the win.

McLaughlin ended the game with eight points, Lewis finished with seven, Thomas, Watson, and CJ Tillman each netted two.

The Raiders improve to 7-4 and will await seeding for the NCHSAA 4A playoffs.