Wednesday, 21 October 2020 13:20

Raiders clinch No. 1 playoff seed in 9 Dime Fall League

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Senior Nygie Stroman had a double-double in Tuesday's game to help Richmond earn the No. 1 playoff seed. Senior Nygie Stroman had a double-double in Tuesday's game to help Richmond earn the No. 1 playoff seed. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

FAYETTEVILLE — The Richmond Raider basketball team accomplished one of its two goals in the 9 Dime Fall League on Tuesday.

Competing against host team New Life Christian Academy, the Raiders and head coach Maurice McLaurin secured the development league’s regular season championship.

Entering the night, the Raiders held a 4-1 overall record, which was tied with Westover for the best mark amongst the eight teams in play. A win would earn Richmond the outright regular-season title because it held the tiebreaker after defeating Westover in the first game of the season.

Despite what McLaurin called a “sluggish start,” the Raiders found a rhythm and defeated New Life 51-40. The win also locked Richmond in as the No. 1 seed in the playoff bracket, which will begin Thursday.

“It feels great to win the regular season championship,” McLaurin said. “I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with the guys and it’s good to see some of their hard work paying off.

“I’m really proud of the guys, but we’re not done yet. We came here to win the whole thing and I know the guys are looking forward to the playoffs.”

Richmond suffered its lone loss of the season last Saturday and McLaurin said the message to the team ahead of the finale was simple.

“I told the guys they needed to come out and play from the beginning to the end,” McLaurin shared. “Our plan was to not let (New Life) back in the game and force them to do what we wanted them to do.”

Other aspects the team worked on during workouts this week were communication, free throws, rebounding and getting back on defense. McLaurin said the team made a better effort on both ends of the floor to earn the win over New Life.

Senior forward Nygie Stroman led the charge for Richmond, earning a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He had nine points at the half, while the Raiders took a 25-23 lead into the locker room. 

The turning point, McLaurin said, was Richmond’s defense finding its groove in the second half. The Raiders held Malachi Travis scoreless in the final half, seeing him score all of his New Life team-leading 13 points in the opening 20 minutes.

Eight total Raiders found the basket in the win, with junior wing Deshon Watson adding eight points. McLaurin noted freshman guard Jamarion Wall provided a “spark off the bench” by also scoring eight points, including two three-pointers.

Freshman Paul McNeil contributed six points and was a factor on defense, scooping up seven rebounds. Senior point guard Patrick McLaughlin and senior shooting guard Dylan Lewis both finished with five points. Lewis added five rebounds to his statsheet.

“Nygie had a good game inside and out, especially with rebounding,” McLaurin said. “PJ ran the floor well and Dylan facilitated the ball and was helpful with scoring and rebounding.

 “Jamarion came off the bench and will be a lot of help for us in the (high school) regular season,” he added. “Paul really helped shut them down with his defense in the second half.”

No. 1 Richmond will play No. 8 Robeson County on Thursday in the opening round of the 9 Dime Fall League playoffs.

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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