Thursday, 27 February 2020 23:56

Stroman's career-high not enough, No. 13 Raiders exit state playoffs

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ROSports File Photo: Junior Nygie Stroman netted a career-high 29 points in Thursday's second-round playoff loss. ROSports File Photo: Junior Nygie Stroman netted a career-high 29 points in Thursday's second-round playoff loss. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

CHARLOTTE — The second-round state playoff rematch between the Richmond Raiders and Independence Patriots nearly had a different outcome on Thursday.

It was the second year in a row the two teams met in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A West playoffs, but No. 4 Independence held off a late surge by No. 13 Richmond to earn a 62-54 win in overtime.

A season ago, the Raiders struggled and fell to the Patriots 58-39, also on the road.

This time around, Richmond and head coach Donald Pettigrew eliminated a double-digit halftime lead, 33-21, to knot the game at 51 points at the end of regulation.

Leading the charge for the Raiders was junior forward Nygie Stroman, who dropped a career-high 29 points in the loss. He was nearly even in both halves, scoring 15 points in the first two periods and added 14 points in the second half.

Stroman would go scoreless in the five-minute overtime period, but junior point guard PJ McLaughlin added the final two of his 10 points. Fellow junior Caleb Hood, who ended the night with three points, added a free throw in the extra frame.

“The kids fought hard and we had a chance, man,” Pettigrew said after the game. “We took a two-point point lead in overtime with two minutes to go, but we gave up four offensive rebounds and they finally scored. Then we couldn’t recover after a travel call.

“Nygie played his butt off, he had it going all game from the inside and the outside,” he added of Stroman, who received his first offer from North Carolina A&T following the game. “He was big for us tonight.”

Trailing 51-48 in the closing minute of the fourth quarter, Stroman banged home the final of his team-high five three-pointers to tie the game with 30 seconds left. Pettigrew said “we had a chance to win it” after Richmond got the ball back for the final shot.

Senior shooting guard Quamir Sivels took a shot as time expired, an open look that Pettigrew had confidence in him taking, but it was just off the mark and forced the game to overtime.

Independence’s Anthony Allen led the Patriots with 16 points, including a three-ball in overtime. Jalen Hinton would add 11 points in the win, followed by teammate Nygell Verdier, who notched 10 points.

The Raiders held close following the first quarter, trailing Independence by three points, 15-12. But an 18-9 run by the home team in the second quarter gave the Patriots a 33-21 lead at the break.

Scoring 12 points in the third was Richmond, but Pettigrew was most impressed with his team’s defense, which held Independence to just four points. Sivels and Stroman each scored four points in the quarter, while McLaughlin and Jarvis Tillman both added two points to go into the fourth down 37-33.

An 18-14 swing by the Raiders in the final eight minutes ended with Stroman’s three-pointer to send the game into extra time. Stroman had 10 points in the frame, McLaughlin added four points and Hood and Sivels netted two points apiece.

But Verdier and Allen combined for seven points in the win-or-go-home period to outlast a tough Raiders team.

“At the beginning of the game it was back and forth, but we were ready to play,” Pettigrew explained. “We gave up some easy looks to get down 12 points at half, but the guys were more patient in the second half.

“PJ did a great job setting the tempo, and the guys did a great job in the third quarter on defense and rebounding,” he continued. “They fought hard like they have all year, and this will be the last time Caleb, Jarvis and Quamir will wear our jersey. I’m so proud of them.”

Despite coming up short of the ultimate goal of making a deep run in the playoffs and trying to win a 4A state title, Pettigrew offered his praise to his entire team, as well as the loyal Richmond fans.

“It is what it is, but there was so much heart from our guys tonight,” Pettigrew said. “I love the way they played. They’re all great character guys, and I’m lucky to be their coach this year.

“I also want to thank our crowd and our fans,” he closed. “We’ve had a nice following all year and they helped us during the game. Me and the guys appreciate all the support.”

ROSports will publish a full season recap next week.

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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