Richmond Knocks Off Patriot Boys
The Richmond Senior High basketball team’s size advantage was too much for Pinecrest to overcome in Wednesday’s 4-A South-eastern Conference tournament semifinal tilt in Rockingham.
Featuring a front-court five-player rotation with an average height of 6-foot-4, the homestanding and second-seeded Raiders dominated the glass on both ends of the court and scored at will in the paint on their way to a 67-51 victory.
“Richmond did a good job early of throwing the ball inside and beating us down there,” said Pinecrest head coach Andrew Lacey. “They had a size advantage inside and we were not able to handle that. It presented us with some matchup problems and got us into some early foul trouble.”
At 6-foot, Trevion Wooten — the Patriot’s leading presence in the post this season and a starter at the center spot — picked up his second foul with 5:15 remaining in the first period. As a result the senior spent most of the remainder of the first half as a spectator on the bench.
Pinecrest (15-9) entered the tournament as the third seed, after going 5-5 in SEC regular season action to capture third place in the final league standings. The Pats opened the tournament Monday with a 61-48 victory over seventh-seed Purnell Swett on their home floor in Southern Pines.
Leading the way for Richmond (18-7) in its SEC tournament debut Wednesday was Jordan Richardson. The 6-4, 252-pound starting senior center finished the game with a 21-point, 13-rebound double-double. Richardson scored each of nine field goals from the paint, where he also tallied three blocks.
In a strong supporting role, 6-5, 223-pound Raider starting power forward Shydamion Ellerbe closed the night with 16 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Richmond outrebounded Pinecrest 41-24 in the semifinal contest, while tallying 16 assists to the Patriots’ eight.
The win was the third on the season for Richmond over Pinecrest. The Raiders (18-7) swept Pinecrest in their regular-season series, earning a 78-67 victory in Rockingham and edging out a 49-47 decision in Southern Pines.
Having seen his team place second in the final conference regular-season standings, with a mark of 7-3, Raider head coach David Laton felt the Raider 2-3 zone defense was a key factor in Wednesday’s battle against Pinecrest.
“We played [some] good defense, especially in the first and third quarters,” said Laton. “We started the game by running our low (post) offense and getting inside and that is how we finished.
“Pinecrest was coming out pretty far (on defense), and that allowed us to make our entry passes a lot easier.
“Josh (Calhoun), our point guard, did a good job recognizing when they (Patriots) were cheating on the wings, and Jordan and Shydamion were finishing well and getting big rebounds down there too.”
Richmond opened the game by pounding the ball down low to Richardson, who scored six of the team’s eight first-quarter points. Trailing 5-0, Pinecrest got two corner threes from senior sharp shooter Adam Cummings and a reverse layup by senior wing Justin Ray to gain a bit of momentum and tie the tilt at 8-all through one quarter of action.
By halftime the Raiders enjoyed a 32-24 lead due in large part to a successful inside-outside second-period approach that yielded six buckets in the paint, three field-goals from downtown and three made foul shots. Cummings sank two more treys for Pinecrest in the quarter while senior captain Frankie Painter had 6 points in the stanza to help the Pats keep pace.
Richardson scored 7 points in the third quarter. His final points of the period came on a 3-point play the old-fashioned way that pushed the Raider lead to 48-32 late in the period.
From there Pinecrest responded with a 10-2 run that began with a pull-up jumper by Ray with 19 ticks remaining in the third quarter.
Trailing 48-34 as play entered the final period, the Patriots employed effective defensive pressure in the form of a full court 1-2-1-1 trap defense that yielded immediate results.
Pinecrest forced the Raiders to turn the ball over five times in the opening three-plus minutes of the fourth frame. Wooten found Cummings deep on the left wing for a 3-point bomb to get things started. Next, Paul Winter-McRae and Wooten made consecutive steals that led to two points from the line.
With 4:33 remaining, Ray kept the run alive with a basket on the offensive glass. After Wooten went to the charity stripe and sank both attempts, Ray made one-of-two tries from the line to cut Richmond’s lead to 50-44 at the 3:41 mark.
Pinecrest was unable to get any closer. Down the stretch the Patriots committed two costly turnovers while Richmond salted the game away from the line.
“Once we got ourselves going a little bit and finally got somewhat of an up-tempo game, we had some little breakdowns,” said Lacey. “Including in those were turnovers, missed free throws and too many missed opportunities.”
After Richardson scored down low on a dish from Calhoun for his last points of the night, the Raiders sank 11 of their final 14 attempts from the charity stripe to secure a ticket to tonight’s SEC tournament championship game.
Richmond’s opponent in Friday’s SEC title tilt is the conference top-seed and 2012-2013 undefeated regular-season champion Hoke County Bucks (23-2), who disposed of fourth-seed Lumberton (10-15) by a tally of 106-69 in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
Calhoun joined Richardson and Ellerbe in double-figure scoring for the Raiders with 12 points. The 6-foot senior point guard also tallied eight assists, three steals and two boards.
Cummings led the Pats with 15 points, all from downtown, while Ray finished with nine.
Junior 6-2 wing Kardashian Ragin tallied a team-high five assists, along with five boards for Pinecrest, while Painter led the squad with seven rebounds.
As a result of the No.1/No.2 championship match-up, Pinecrest is assured a berth in the 4-A NCHSAA boys’ state playoffs as the third seed from the SEC when the brackets are released and the regional-seeding (1 through 16) are announced this weekend.
The opening round of the state basketball playoffs is slated for Monday, Feb 25.
Pinecrest 8 16 10 17 — 51
Richmond 8 24 16 19 — 67
Pinecrest: Cummings 5 0-0 15, Ray 4 1-2 9, Painter 2 3-4 7, Justice 2 1-2 7, J. Calhoun 2 0-2 5, Wooten 0 4-6 4, Winter-McRae 0 4-4 4. Totals 15 13-20 51.
Richmond: Richardson 9 3-4 21, Ellerbe 5 6-7 16, Calhoun 2 7-9 12, T. Pettigrew 3 0-0 8, J. McDonald 1 1-2 3, X. Davis 0 3-4 3, S. Neely 1 0-0 2 G. Patterson 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 20-26 67
Three-point goals: Pinecrest 8 (Cummings 5, Justice 2, Calhoun); Richmond 3 (Pettigrew 2, Calhoun).
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