Saturday, 09 February 2019 00:34

Raiders win eighth-straight SAC contest, sink Pirates 79-65

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Senior forward Xavier Pettigrew (30) connects on a shot over Lumberton's Tazarie Butler in the Raiders' eighth-straight SAC win. Senior forward Xavier Pettigrew (30) connects on a shot over Lumberton's Tazarie Butler in the Raiders' eighth-straight SAC win. Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — The Raider varsity basketball team extended its Sandhills Athletic Conference winning streak to eight games Friday against Lumberton High School, the same team it beat to get it started just under a month ago.

Since playing with a “totally different bounce” since last losing to Hoke County High School on Jan. 8, the Raiders continued that vibe Friday, out-muscling the Pirates in a physical matchup for a 79-65 win.

It was almost an identical score to the first matchup on Jan. 11 (78-65), and the final score inside Raider Gymnasium marked a season-high for Richmond against an SAC opponent.

Senior shooting guard Rod Newton continued to be electric, dropping a game-high 20 points, and connected for five three-pointers in the win. Aiding him off the bench was fellow senior Xavier Pettigrew, who netted 17 points.

A slow rebounding start by Richmond saw the Pirates jump out to an 11-6 lead halfway through the first quarter. Junior Jarvis Tillman started a momentum shift with a two-handed jam to cut the deficit to three points, and sophomore Caleb Hood muscled his way through the paint on the next possession to make it an 11-10 ball game.

At the end of the first eight minutes, Richmond trailed by a point, 17-16, but a 21-point second period would prove to be the game’s difference maker. Lumberton opened on an 11-2 run in the first 4:13, but the rest of the frame belonged to Richmond.

In the closing 3:20, the Raiders ran the floor, outscoring the Pirates 19-2 to take a 37-30 halftime lead. The run started with a Quamir Sivels free throw, and saw Newton rattle home two deep triples on the next two possessions.

Sophomore Nygie Stroman added a bucket off a steal, as Pettigrew added four more points of his own. Jordan McNeill ended the bleeding for the Pirates as he connected on two free throws with 10.5 seconds left before intermission.

“We started slow with rebounding and were terrible with handling the ball, fumbling it around,” head coach Donald Pettigrew said. “But the guys worked hard and went on some nice little runs to get us back in it.

“We have enough firepower now at this point in the year to be able to overcome (slow starts),” he added. “Earlier in the year, we couldn’t do that. The guys are starting to grow and are playing seasoned now. Rod has been on fire and he’s on a stretch where it’s easy for him and makes it easier for everyone else.”

The Raiders continued to dominate in the third quarter, outscoring the Pirates 25-16. Newton finished his scoring in the frame, adding two three-balls, two field goals and a free throw. Pettigrew netted six more points, while Hood and Sivels each added four points in the stanza.

McNeill was called for a technical foul with 1:27 left in the quarter, sending Newton to the line. With 25 seconds left in the quarter, Pettigrew drove the paint for a bucket, giving the Raiders a 16-point advantage, 62-46, heading into the fourth.

The game’s physicality picked up in the final eight minutes with Lumberton reeling to get back in the game. Richmond was outscored 18-17 in the period, but it was too little, too late for the Pirates to make a comeback.

Sophomore guard PJ McLaughlin took over the point and would connect on six-of-eight opportunities from the free throw line. He also added a field goal to round out his 10-point performance.

Pettigrew gave the Raiders their largest lead at any point in the game, 18 points, when he connected with a mid-range jumper on an assist from teammate Alex Quick with 5:15 remaining.

Leading scorers for Richmond were Newton (20), Pettigrew (17) and McLaughlin (10). Stroman added eight points, Sivels contributed seven, Hood tallied six and Quick chipped in four. McNeill scored a team-high 17 points for Lumberton, while Kwashek Breeden added 13 points.

“We knew it was going to be physical tonight,” Coach Pettigrew said. “We knew it would be hard to get toward the top of the conference. After we beat Seventy-First (High School), I told the guys that if they wanted to do it the hard way, we would.

“Winning all of the road games we have like at Seventy-First and Jack Britt, that’s on the guys,” he concluded. “They could have easily quit, but they pulled together and put up eight wins in a row. Now we’re in the position to play for the No. 1 seed on Tuesday.”

Friday’s victory put Richmond in two-way tie with Pinecrest High School for second place, with each school having identical 8-4 conference records. The Raiders and Patriots split the regular season series, making Tuesday’s senior night game against Seventy-First (9-3 SAC) crucial for the SAC regular season title and SAC tournament seeding.

Tip against the Falcons is set for 7:30 p.m. in Rockingham with the regular season title on the line.

Kyle Pillar

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

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