Tuesday, 23 November 2021 23:15

Late basket, free throws propel No. 22 Raiders past No. 12 Northern Guilford

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Sophomore Paul McNeil (2) scored a game-high 21 points in Richmond's exciting win over Northern Guilford on Tuesday. Sophomore Paul McNeil (2) scored a game-high 21 points in Richmond's exciting win over Northern Guilford on Tuesday. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

GREENSBORO — Facing a “great test” on the road Tuesday, the Richmond Senior High School boys’ basketball team earned its third-straight season-opening victory.

The No. 22 Raiders (according to High School OT’s preseason rankings) traveled to non-conference No. 12 Northern Guilford, and outlasted the Nighthawks 63-59.

Coming down to the final minute, a pair of clutch free throws from sophomore guard Paul McNeil, coupled with a floater and a free throw from fellow sophomore forward Jamarion Wall, helped the Raiders get the win.

“We started off going back and forth and then we pulled ahead a little bit,” head coach Donald Pettigrew said. “Northern Guilford was resilient and this was a great test for us to start the season.

“Our guys never quit and we hit big shot after big shot, and it was a great finish by both teams,” he added. “Paul was big from the free throw line and they made it tough on him tonight. Jamarion showed great confidence by taking that shot late.”

Sophomore Jamarion Wall (15) prepares to shoot a free throw with just under 6 seconds left in the game. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

The Raiders entered the fourth quarter leading 49-42, but an 11-4 run by Northern Guilford tied the game at 53 points. A dunk by Nolan Hodge and a bucket underneath from Vance Bolyard knotted the game with 2:36 to play.

McNeil, who finished with a game-high 21 points and added 8 rebounds, sank a pair of free throws nine seconds later to give the Raiders the lead for good. He was a perfect 8-for-8 from the line, including six free throws in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore guard Javian Drake extended Richmond’s lead with a three-pointer from the left corner, one of his four triples in the game. But Hodge answered with a three-ball, pulling Northern Guilford within two points, 58-56, with 1:37 left.

A charge called against the Nighthawks two possessions later led to two more free throws from McNeil with 61 seconds on the clock. Hodge kept the Nighthawks in it with another triple, the final of his team-high 19 points, to make it a one-point game.

On the ensuing inbound, Wall dribbled the length of the floor before laying in a one-handed shot from the right side of the paint with 28.9 seconds to go. He added a free throw with just under six ticks to ice the win.

The Raiders used 7 points in the first quarter from junior guard Dakota Chavis to get out to a 15-9 lead. He hit a triple on the team’s first possession, added two more field goals and finished with 11 points.

Drake and McNeil each hit a three-pointer in the opening stanza, and a bucket from senior Xavier Collazo kept the visitors ahead.

A 7-2 run by the Nighthawks to start the second quarter made it a one-point lead, but a free throw from McNeil on a one-and-one opportunity started an 18-10 stretch controlled by the Raiders.

Junior center Zion Baldwin joined the mix with all six of his points, scored on moves under the hoop. In the final two minutes of the half, Richmond outscored Northern Guilford (0-1) 10-2. 

Drake and Wall went back-to-back on three-pointers to give the Raiders a 35-26 halftime lead, their largest margin to that point.

Sophomore Javian Drake (3) launches one of his four three-pointers in Richmond’s win. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Coach Kent Phillips’ team would outscore the Raiders 16-14 in the third quarter to set up the comeback attempt in the final eight minutes.

Chavis and McNeil each had four points in the third, and Drake and Wall both knocked down triples from opposite corners in the final 90 seconds.

Jackson Helms (15 points) and Jordan Williams (9 points) both had 5 points in the third quarter for the Nighthawks, who made it to the third round of the 3A state playoffs last year.

“J.V. (Drake) is our spark plug and he loves the moment,” Pettigrew said. “He’s not afraid of the moment and he showed that tonight. There were no bad shots from anyone.

“When Dakota can drive and finish baskets like he did for us in the first quarter, he’s tough and that helps us. He controlled the game really well in the first half.”

Wall finished with 9 points and 3 boards, Chavis had 3 rebounds and Drake netted 14 points to go along with his 4 rebounds.

“The guys aren’t going to back down from anyone and they just want to play hard,” Pettigrew closed. “All I ask from them is to play hard and pull for each other. They’re excited for each other and it’s easy for me to coach that type of energy.”

The Raiders (1-0) will take a week off between games for Thanksgiving break and return to the floor on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at Uwharrie Charter Academy (2-1). Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Click here to watch an interview with sophomores Paul McNeil and Jamarion Wall following Tuesday’s win over Northern Guilford.

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

Twitter: ROSports_