Wednesday, 01 December 2021 00:06

Baldwin, McNeil combine to aid Raiders in OT thriller

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Junior Zion Baldwin throws down a jam to tie the game in the third quarter of Richmond's overtime win against Uwharrie Charter on Tuesday. Junior Zion Baldwin throws down a jam to tie the game in the third quarter of Richmond's overtime win against Uwharrie Charter on Tuesday. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ASHEBORO — Resiliency was the name of the game for the Richmond Raider basketball team on Tuesday, which outlasted another tough non-conference opponent, this time in overtime.

Head coach Donald Pettigrew told his team to value every possession heading into the extra four-minute frame, and none was more valuable than the final one.

Putting the ball in the hands of sophomore shooting guard Paul McNeil, the No. 22 Raiders won the early-season thriller 69-67 over Uwharrie Charter Academy.

With 3.3 seconds left on the clock, McNeil added the final two of his season and game-high 27 points on a drive through the paint. His shot went off the glass and into the hoop to secure the win.

The Eagles’ Alijah Barker forced the game into overtime when he drained a triple from the top of the key with 6.4 seconds left in regulation.

Following the game, Pettigrew told his team they “were built for this” type of competition, adding it was a quality win on the road for the second straight game to start the season.

“Two back-to-back road games is tough, and we played in a hostile environment with a good basketball crowd tonight,” Pettigrew said. “Uwharrie Charter came ready to play and did what they’re supposed to do to make it tough for us.

“We worked for everything tonight,” he added. “Uwharrie Charter threw it to their 6-8 guy (Ashton Troutman) and their other big (Barker) and it was challenging. We went one-on-one and then started double teaming them toward the end. But our guys hung in there to get the win.”

Scoring 7 points in the first quarter, McNeil helped the Raiders hold a 20-19 lead after one. But 12 points from Troutman and 9 points from Barker in the first half gave the Eagles (4-2) a 32-28 lead at halftime.

Sophomore Jamarion Wall scored all six of his points, both on triples from the right corner, in the first quarter. Senior Deshon Watson and junior Zion Baldwin, who both finished with double figures, added 4 points each in the opening stanza.

Senior Deshon Watson scored a season-high 11 points in the win over the Eagles. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Richmond was outscored 13-8 in the second quarter. Watson had four of his season-high 11 points, McNeil added a putback and Baldwin chipped in two more of his career-high 17 points.

A trio of triples from McNeil in the third, combined with seven more points courtesy of Baldwin, were the bulk of the Raiders’ 21 third-quarter points. A breakaway dunk from Baldwin with 2:50 left tied the game at 38 points.

Sophomore Javian Drake landed a three-ball, his only points of the game, and Watson scored two more points to give Richmond a 49-48 lead entering the fourth.

With 5:10 left in the game, junior Dakota Chavis helped with a three-pointer from the top of the key and added a bucket off a steal on the ensuing Eagles possession for all five of his points.. 

That put Richmond up 58-52, but Troutman and Barker combined to go on a 10-4 run to extend the game into overtime.

Sophomore Paul McNeil pulls up for a jumper in the second half of Tuesday’s win. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

“We had to value our possessions, especially in overtime,” Pettigrew said. “There were a couple of times where we threw the ball away or we went out of bounds. We just have to play smarter. 

“It’s only game two of a long season and we have time to get better. These non-conference games are meant to help us perfect the small things.”

McNeil accounted for five of Richmond’s points in the extra period, coming on a triple from the right wing and the game-winning drive. Baldwin started overtime with a shot under the rim to tie the game back up at 64-64.

Ending the game with a double-double, McNeil added 10 rebounds to his stat sheet. Baldwin’s seven boards matched Wall and Watson’s totals for second highest on the team.

Troutman had 20 points and Barker added 17 points for the Eagles in the loss. Dawson Dunn contributed 10 points for Uwharrie Charter.

“Paul is going to do what he does. We wanted the ball in his hands at the end of the game,” Pettigrew said. “It starts and ends with him. He does a great job of passing the ball and helping the other guys score.

“Zion has a high motor with rebounding, putbacks and steals,” he closed. “He’s an undersized post player, but he makes up for it with his effort.”

Richmond (2-0) will move onto its second of three games this week with its much-anticipated home opener on Friday against Pine Forest High School (2-0). The non-conference game will begin around 7:30 p.m.

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.

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