Saturday, 15 January 2022 22:12

PROGRAM HISTORY: Raiders edge Lumberton to secure 14th straight win to start season

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Sophomore Javian Drake (3) watches as his go-ahead three-pointer goes in the net early in the third quarter. Sophomore Javian Drake (3) watches as his go-ahead three-pointer goes in the net early in the third quarter. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

RED SPRINGS — The Richmond Raider basketball team made program history on Saturday during the MLK Jr. Basketball Classic at Red Springs High School.

Playing against former conference foe Lumberton High School, the Raiders picked up their 14th consecutive win to start the season. That surpassed the program’s previous best start, which was set during the 2003-04 season.

Using three double-digit performances, the Raiders overcame a slow start to defeat the Pirates 51-45.

“We were down 10 points in the first quarter, but the guys kept playing and kept their composure,” head coach Donald Pettigrew said. “And they’ve proven they can do that even though we’re such a young team.

“This team has that ‘never quit’ mindset no matter what the score is,” he added. “Tonight they did a good job of digging in and kept fighting until the end.”

Sophomore guard Javian Drake finished with a game-high 15 points and had several crucial baskets for the Raiders. At the first-half buzzer, Drake drained a three-pointer from the left corner to tie the game at 23-23 and erase a 10-point second-quarter deficit.

Drake also hit another triple from the left wing in the early part of the third period, which proved to be the go-ahead basket that put Richmond ahead for good. His final two points came on a pair of free throws with 40 seconds left in the game.

“JV (Drake) was struggling early, but he hit that three-pointer to tie the game at halftime and that was big for us,” Pettigrew said. “That was a shot that gave us a lot of momentum that carried over. 

“We played a lot of 3-2 zone defense tonight, and only played man-to-man the last 40 seconds of the game, and the guys did a good job of being in their spots to make it difficult for Lumberton to score.”

The Raiders trailed 14-6 after the opening period, using four points from sophomore Paul McNeil, who finished the game with 13 points. Adding the other basket early was junior Dakota Chavis, whose night ended with 12 points and seven assists.

Trailing 17-7 early in the second, the Raiders used a pair of free throws from Chavis to start a 16-6 run into the break. 

Senior Will Dawkins followed with two shots from the charity stripe, and Chavis and McNeil both hit triples from the top of the arc to make it a one-possession game.

Charging down the court following an inbound with just a few seconds remaining, Drake pulled up and hit the wide-open three-ball to knot the game.

Chavis opened the third with a drive through the paint to give Richmond the lead, but a 3-0 run by the Pirates (10-4) put them back ahead by two. At the 5:57 mark, Drake sunk his second three-pointer of the game, giving the Raiders the lead for good.

That shot started a 9-2 run by Richmond, which featured seven points from Drake and a drive by senior forward Xavier Collazo, who finished with seven points, all in the second half.

Dawkins extended the lead with an athletic spinning jump shot in the paint to cap his four-point performance, and a Collazo triple in the final minute gave the Raiders a 39-36 lead heading into the fourth.

Senior Xavier Collazo (24) connects on a three-pointer in the second half. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

McNeil knocked down a three-pointer and finished a bucket and a free throw for his final six points before fouling out with 4:40 left in regulation. His final free throw gave the Raiders a 47-40 advantage.

“In the second half, it was a back and forth game,” Pettigrew said. “Coach Miller does a heck of a job getting his team ready defensively and running sets to make it difficult for us. 

“When Paul fouled out, that was big,” he continued. “But JV called the guys into a huddle on the court and told them they were going to finish and get the win. The guys kept their poise and they wanted the record.”

For the remainder of the game, the Raiders played keep-away and forced the Pirates to foul. Lumberton did go on a 5-0 run to make it a two-point deficit, 47-45, but a pair of Drake free throws, coupled with two from Collazo with six seconds left secured the historic win.

Lumberton’s leading scorers were JaMerel Brockington and Angel Bowie, who each scored 12 points. Teammates Cobe Oxendine and Tre Lewis added 10 and 8 points, respectively.

“We’re going to continue to try and get better each game,” Pettigrew said. “This has been an amazing start to the season and we have a lot of tradition here. Starting 14-0 and breaking Coach (David) May’s record is a big deal for this team.

“Coach May hired me in 2002 and I was a part of that 13-0 start in 2003,” he closed. “I owe a lot to him for teaching me a lot. And it’s so much fun right now earning wins against quality teams.”

The Raiders (14-0, 4-0 SAC) return to Sandhills Athletic Conference play on Tuesday and Friday with games against Scotland (4-7, 2-2 SAC) and Southern Lee (1-11, 0-5 SAC).

Richmond will look to stay atop the SAC standings at the turn of conference play. To date, the Raiders have never finished a season with an undefeated record against conference opponents. Both games will begin at 7:30 p.m.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Senior Xavier Collazo and sophomore Javian Drake break down Saturday’s historic win for the Raiders over Lumberton.

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni.

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