Patriots Play Hoke for SEC Title Tonight
Trailing Richmond Senior 50-47 with just over five minutes remaining in the game, the first-place Pinecrest boys suddenly began playing with a sense of urgency.
“I think we feel like we’re 10 feet tall and bulletproof sometimes, and nobody can touch us,” Patriot coach Mike Apple said after Tuesday’s Senior Night contest. “After that five-minute mark, we were going to get loose balls, and we were going to play defense and did.”
Senior Damion Pride sank both ends of a 1-and-1 opportunity with 10.7 seconds remaining to provide the final points in the 61-60 Patriot victory. The Raiders nearly pulled it out with a shot that barely missed its mark as the buzzer sounded.
Senior Marshall Smith was the high scorer for the Patriots with 18 points. Another senior, Faronte’ Drakeford, contributed 16 points and 15 rebounds. The difference in the game was at the foul line, where the Patriots converted 16 of 21 attempts while the Raiders went 12-for-30.
The Patriots — 19-4 overall, and 8-1 in the Southeastern conference — close out regular season play at Hoke County tonight with the conference title on the line. The Bucks are 7-2 in the league, but defeated the Patriots in their first meeting. If they beat the defending champion Patriots again, they would win the conference because of their advantage in head-to-head competition.
Leading up to the late wakeup call for the Patriots, the Raiders (14-7, 4-5) took a 47-41 lead into the fourth quarter. At the 3:50 mark, Pride set up Smith for a three that gave the Pats their first lead of the half at 52-50, then made another big play about a minute later.
With the Patriots nursing a 55-54 lead, Pride launched a three. The 5-foot-10 guard then followed his shot to the basket, grabbed the miss and scored.
“Coach Apple was looking for a layup, but then I saw that open,” he said. “I knew I shouldn’t have shot it, so I wanted to make up for it and get the rebound.”
The Raiders were within a point at 59-58 when Pride made his trip to the foul line and drained both attempts for a 61-58 Patriot lead.
“I felt like the whole world was on my shoulders,” he said. “I was really nervous about it.”
A basket by the Raiders’ Trey Little, followed by a Patriot turnover, set up scary final seconds for the home team.
After setting a career high with 14 points in last Friday’s win over Purnell Swett, Smith set a new standard with 18. He was 9-for-17 from the field in the two games, with four threes, and made all 10 of his free throws.
“On Senior Night you hope your seniors play well, and the guy that comes to mind is Phillip Moultrie (now a member of the Sandhills Flyers) and the great senior game he had a couple of years ago,” Apple said. “I thought Marshall had one of those games tonight. He hit shots early and he hit shots late when we needed them.”
Other senior players honored between the girls’ and boys’ games included Phillip Wallace, Antonio Jones, Juwan Wilson, Tyrek McLaughlin, Shakeal Pearson and Nate Peterkin. Also honored were student trainer Chris Peterkin, statistician Amber Brooks and cheerleaders Jordan Thompson, Brittney Riley, Megan Middleton, Kelsey McCarver, Carley Eibel and Ashlyn Douglas.
Contact Charlie Bergmann at email@example.com.
Pinecrest 61, Richmond 60
Richmond 13 18 16 13 60
Pinecrest 17 11 13 20 61
Richmond – Breeden 3 1-2 7, T. Little 5 5-9 15, Clarke 4 2-4 10, Freeman 5 0-6 10, Ellerbe 3 2-4 8, Richardson 2 1-3 5, D. Little 2 1-2 5. Totals 24 12-30 60. Pinecrest – Wallace 2 1-2 6, Drakeford 5 6-8 16, Pride 3 2-3 8, Smith 5 6-6 18, Jones 2 1-2 7, Wilson 0 0-0 0, McLaughlin 0 0-0 0, Pearson 0 0-0 0, Cummings 0 0-0 0, Williams 3 0-0 6. Totals 20 16-21 61. Three-point goals: (P) 5 (M. Smith 2, Jones 2, Wallace).
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