Wednesday, 16 January 2019 00:01

Four Raiders net double-digits as Richmond upsets Seventy-First 75-71

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Sophomore Caleb Hood drains a three-pointer over Stephon Johnson in the first quarter of Tuesday's win. He finished with 13 points Sophomore Caleb Hood drains a three-pointer over Stephon Johnson in the first quarter of Tuesday's win. He finished with 13 points Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

FAYETTEVILLE — Something that hadn’t happened since 2004 took place Tuesday night inside Seventy-First High School’s gymnasium in a Sandhills Athletic Conference battle between the Richmond Raiders and the host Falcons.

The Raiders, who entered the night hot off their upset win over Lumberton High School Friday, continued to tear through some of their toughest competition of the season. Richmond and head coach Donald Pettigrew edged the Falcons 75-71, making it the first time in 15 years the Raiders had defeated Seventy-First on its home court.

During that season, the Raiders went 23-5, and posted a 12-2 record in the Midsoutheastern Conference, which secured the conference title. Tuesday’s four-point win made it only the second time in the last decade and a half that Richmond has defeated the Falcons, the other being a 48-47 nailbiter on Jan. 18, 2008, in Rockingham.

Now with back-to-back wins against two of the toughest teams in the SAC, the Raiders inched their way closer to the .500 mark, and now sit with a 7-8 overall record and 2-4 record against conference opponents.

“The guys are learning to trust each other,” Pettigrew said after the game when asked what the difference maker was Tuesday. “We played a tough non-conference schedule this year to get ready for our conference games. And now we’re seeing it pay off -- the guys are learning how to close out games.”

Richmond opened the SAC slate 0-4 and lost three of those games by five points or fewer. Over the last two games against Lumberton and Seventy-First, the Raiders have won thanks to multiple double-digit scorers, something they lacked early on.

A season-high four double-digit scorers led the Raiders to victory, as senior shooting guard Rod Newton rebounded from a three-point game Friday with a team-high 19 points, and saw 16 points added by sophomore Nygie Stroman. Stroman missed the entire second quarter after hitting his head on the floor while attempting a shot in the paint.

Fellow sophomore Caleb Hood had his biggest night of the season, as he found his jump shot early and notched 13 points in the win. Rounding out the scoring attack was senior forward Xavier Pettigrew, who came off the bench and scored 12 points, nine of which came in the second quarter.

“The guys played hard tonight and they never quit fighting,” Pettigrew said. “I told them before the game it was going to be one of those games where we were going to go back and forth. They were resilient and took care of the ball when they needed to.”

The Raiders didn’t earn their first lead of the game until midway through the first quarter, when junior center Jarvis Tillman splashed down a three-pointer from the top of the key. Stroman had opened the team’s scoring with six straight points, and Hood tallied his first three-pointer to close out the frame.

A jumper by Seventy-First’s Xzavier Howard, who scored a game second-best 21 points, knotted the game at 12 in the final minute of the opening quarter.

Richmond exploded for a quarter-best 26 points in the second eight-minute period, as Pettigrew’s nine points (four field goals and a free throw) were aided by eight points from Hood. But the Falcons managed to turn the tide, getting out to a 30-24 lead with 3:30 to play before the halftime buzzer.

However, a 10-3 run by the Raiders to close out the final 2:25 gave the visiting team a 38-35 lead at the break. Pettigrew hit a shot off the glass in that span, and got help from another Hood three-pointer and a transition layup from senior Alex Quick.

The only quarter the Raiders were outscored in was the third frame, as the Falcons put 23 points on the board to Richmond’s 19. Newton dropped 10 points in that span, but 11 combined points from Howard and leading scorer Brion McLaurin (23 points) gave the Falcons a 58-57 lead heading into the fourth.

But it was the likes of Newton and Stroman who helped the Raiders complete the upset, as both players netted four points in the closing minutes. Pettigrew added three points, while Hood, Quick and Tillman tacked on two points apiece.

Tillman, who finished with just five points, drained a pair of free throws with 58 seconds left to make it 72-68. His final basket would prove to be the game winner. From the charity stripe in the fourth, Richmond knocked down six of 11 attempts in crunch time.

“In the beginning of the year, Nygie was missing what he’s done the last two games,” Pettigrew commented. “When he started playing well, that has made us so much better. Caleb and Zay had a strong second quarter, and our second five came in and scored for us tonight.

“Now we’re starting to click and I hope to see things get better,” he concluded. “This is a big morale boost for us. We know we can play with anybody and if we continue to finish games, we’ll go on a run.”

The Raiders will look to win their third conference game in a row Friday, as they’ll host Scotland High School. The Fighting Scots (4-11, 2-4) upset Lumberton 60-59 Tuesday. Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m. following the Lady Raiders’ game.

Last modified on Thursday, 17 January 2019 09:35
Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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