Sunday, 12 January 2020 21:07

Raiders drop second straight, fall to South Meck

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Jalen David (22) guards Cole Mallory (11) during Saturday's loss to South Meck. Jalen David (22) guards Cole Mallory (11) during Saturday's loss to South Meck. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond Senior High School boys’ basketball team has hit a mid-season snag, as the Raiders dropped their second game in as many days on Saturday.

A night after suffering its worst loss of the season to Lumberton, another slow start against South Mecklenburg High School ended in a 57-54 defeat.

Head coach Donald Pettigrew said going into the game the team wanted to rid itself of the “nasty taste” left in its mouth following the loss to the Pirates, but not being able to find the basket early proved to be the difference maker.

The Raiders (10-4) played a majority of the game from behind, and trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half to South Meck (6-8). Richmond did pick up its scoring in the second half, primarily in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game, but still fell short.

Junior Nygie Stroman led the team in scoring with 16 points, followed by 10 points from Caleb Hood. PJ McLaughlin chipped in eight points, while sophomore Jalen David netted seven off the bench.

“Again, we started off slow with no kind of intensity,” Pettigrew said. “And that’s on me. I have to do a better job getting the guys ready to play. We’re going to pick it up Monday and keep going.

“I told the guys we can’t let teams think they can play with us,” he added. “Giving them confidence leads to games like today. But it’s a long road ahead and we’re going to try and claw back.”

A 9-2 run by South Meck to close the opening frame but the visitors ahead 18-7 going into the second quarter. Stroman would lead Richmond with three points, coming on a putback and a free throw. Adding field goals were Hood and McLaughlin.

The Raiders closed the gap to nine points at the break with 13 points in the second. Stroman started to find his grove, putting up seven points on a free throw, a baseline jumper, a layup on a dish from Hood and an alley oop from McLaughlin.

Junior guard Dylan Lewis added all four of his points in the game in the second, and David started his afternoon with a floater in the paint. The Raiders entered the locker room down nine points, 29-20.

McLaughlin led the way in the third with six points for the Raiders, and four points each from Hood and senior Jarvis Tillman kept the Raiders within 10 points at the start of the fourth.

The final stanza belonged to the Raiders, as they quietly chipped away at the lead. A Stroman basket at the two-minute mark pulled Richmond within five, and he drained a three-pointer with 37 seconds left to make it a one-possession game 55-52.

McLaughlin would steal the ball on the ensuing inbound, and Richmond called a timeout with 26.3 seconds left. With the clock winding, Stroman and Hood would both miss shots, and South Meck’s Cole Mallory hit a pair of free throws when the Raiders were forced to foul.

Down five, McLaughlin drove the paint for the final points of the game at the buzzer.

“Our shots aren’t falling,” Pettigrew noted. “Now we need to try to get inside more and making easier shots.

“The guys fought back hard and showed pride,” he closed. 

Richmond (10-4, 4-1 SAC) will look to return to the win column on Tuesday at home against Sandhills Athletic Conference opponent Seventy-First High School (6-6, 2-2 SAC). Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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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