Raiders End Pats’ Season
By Charlie Bergmann
Special to The Pilot
The season came to an end for the Pinecrest boys’ basketball team after a brave effort at Richmond Senior Monday night.
The Patriots (7-18) cut a 19-point Raider lead to five with two minutes remaining in the Southeastern Conference tournament opener before falling 75-62. Winners of five games in a row, the Raiders (18-5) advance to one of Wednesday’s semifinal games at Lumberton.
Justin Glenn torched the Patriots for 19 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, including four of his five threes. The Pats were led by Justin Ray with 15 points and Adam Cummings with 11.
The third double-double in his last four games by Patriot senior Traivon Williams included 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Raiders didn’t make a shot from behind the arc during last week’s 66-53 victory at Pinecrest when the rugged inside duo of Shydamion Ellerbe and Jordan Richardson combined to score half of their points. Glenn took advantage of the Patriot effort to clog up the paint this time.
The senior guard drained his first two treys and scored 11 points in a first quarter that ended with the home team on top 16-6. Ray helped keep the Patriots in contention by attacking the glass for four second-quarter baskets, snapping a personal scoring drought that held him to a total of six points in the previous two games. The Raider lead was 38-25 at the intermission.
“I just tried to do everything I could to get my team back in it,” Ray, a junior wingman, said. “I didn’t want to lose, but we did. We fought until the end.”
The last of Glenn’s threes made it 43-27 early in the third period. It was 60-41 in the second minute of the fourth when the Patriots began their rally against mostly Raider reserves. The one constant was Trey Little always staying close to Cummings around the three-point line.
“He’s pretty good at it,” the junior said of Little’s defense. “He stayed on me the whole game.”
Held to one basket at the time, Cummings’ 58th trey of the season made it 60-47. With the Raider starters now back in the game, a three by Kardashian Ragin and a steal for two by Jermaine Martin-Calhoun, helped make it a single-digit lead for the first time since the opening period at 64-55.
The Patriots were now causing the Raiders some distress with their full-court press. Looking to make Little pay for the close-guarding, Cummings twice put the ball on the floor and scored on drives to the basket, cutting the margin to 64-59 at the two-minute mark.
“In the off-season I’m mainly going to work on my ball-handling so I can break the defense down easier without just relying on my jump-shooting,” Cummings said.
The Raiders answered with four points in a row, but Sam Brower’s third trey for the Patriots made it a two-possession game again at 68-62 with 1:12 remaining. Mixed in with Patriot turnovers, the Raiders scored the final seven points of the game.
“We got easy shots at the end because it got helter-skelter,” Patriot coach Andrew Lacey said. “They got in foul trouble and we got the opportunity to score points with the clock stopped. We cut it to a two-possession game and then I think we had three turnovers. It’s those little things down the stretch that hurt.”
A strong all-around effort by Ray included nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. Junior varsity call-ups Jamaan Calhoun, Tyler Coe, Trevon Wooten and Mark Kropp saw action in the final minute. Ellerbe (15 points) and Richardson (six) were limited to a total of 21 points this time around.
In spite of losing seven in a row, the Patriots fought hard twice against Richmond and first-place Hoke County in their final three games.
“The team keeps fighting,” Cummings said. “That’s what’s good about us. We don’t give up. A couple more baskets and we would have been in it.”
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