Tuesday, 18 January 2022 23:24

Raiders rout Scotland in rivalry game for 15th straight victory

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Sophomore Paul McNeil (2) scored a game-high 24 points and added 10 rebounds in Tuesday's win. Sophomore Paul McNeil (2) scored a game-high 24 points and added 10 rebounds in Tuesday's win. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

LAURINBURG — Closing its first round of Sandhills Athletic Conference play on Tuesday against rival Scotland, the Richmond Raider basketball team collected its 15th straight win and remained in first place.

Spreading its scoring across seven players, Richmond routed fifth-place Scotland 70-41.

Four Raiders reached double figures, including a double-double from sophomore shooting guard Paul McNeil, who finished with a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds. He also had four assists.

Adding 14 points apiece were sophomores Javian Drake and Jamarion Wall, and senior Xavier Collazo netted a career-high 12 points, all on three-pointers. 

Drake chipped in five rebounds and four assists, Wall had three boards and four assists and junior Zion Baldwin added a second-best eight rebounds.

Head coach Donald Pettigrew said something the team has focused on in practice lately has been the necessity of jumping out to a fast start on offense and defense.

“We knew with it being a rivalry game there was going to be a lot of emotion,” Pettigrew said. “Our goal tonight was to get off to a fast start since our last few games have been kind of slow. 

“We wanted to pick up the tempo and we did that tonight,” he added. “And we were able to knock down shots a lot better than we have lately.”

Richmond answered the call by outscoring the Fighting Scots (4-9, 2-3 SAC) 21-8 in the first quarter. Collazo led the way with six points, hitting a pair of threes from the left side.

Both McNeil and Drake added five points, connecting on a three-pointer and a field goal. Wall started his scoring with a drive and junior Dakota Chavis netted all three of his points in the first.

A more evenly matched second quarter saw Richmond outplay Scotland 14-13 to take a 35-21 lead into the break. McNeil hit two free throws, two field goals and another three-ball to net a team-leading nine points in the frame.

Collazo rang home a triple from the right wing in the final minute and Drake added the other two points on a transition bucket that was set up by a McNeil block.

Netting 11 points in the second for Scotland was Lamonte Cousar, who finished with a team-high 16 points. That included a baseline jam that pulled the Fighting Scots within seven points.

Senior Xavier Collazo (24) watches as one of his four three-pointers goes into the basket during Tuesday’s win. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

“Xavier was big for us tonight and was the spark that we needed with his four three-pointers,” Pettigrew explained. “He’s been playing good for us the last two games.

“Paul and JV (Drake) were consistent again for us tonight,” he added. “Jamarion was in his first game back and he started knocking down shots in the second half. The guys did a good job of hitting shots against their box-and-one defense.”

The Raiders broke the game open in the third, going on a 17-9 run to open their lead to 22 points after three. Five Richmond players found the basket, including six points from McNeil and five points from Wall.

Collazo finished his scoring with one more three-pointer, splashing it down from the left wing with 10 seconds to go in the period. Drake added a bucket and senior Will Dawkins, who finished with five rebounds, scored his lone point on a free throw.

Richmond led by as many as 32 points in the fourth quarter. Wall capped his scoring with two field goals and another three-pointer and Drake added five points on a transition basket and a triple.

McNeil netted his final four points on a tip-in and two free throws and senior Domanyck McDonald became the final scorer for Richmond with a putback in the final 90 seconds.

Other leading scorers for Scotland were Patrick Reaves (11 points) and Isaac Ferguson (7 points).

“We have some tough games coming up, but our mindset is just one game at a time,” Pettigrew closed. “I’ve been saying it all year that we want to get better and improve each game.

“Up next we have Southern Lee and then Pinecrest, so we just have to be ready to play. The guys understand that it starts by continuing to get better at practice.”

Richmond (15-0, 5-0 SAC) will continue its quest for its first SAC championship since 2016-17 with another road game at last-place Southern Lee High School (1-12, 0-5) on Friday.

The Raiders rolled past the Cavaliers 70-44 in the first conference meeting earlier this season. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

Twitter: @ROSports_