ROCKINGHAM — The Robeson County Shootout is in the rear-view mirror and that is how Richmond Senior boys basketball coach David Laton wants it.
The Raiders went into last week’s Shootout riding a four-game winning streak following their season-opening loss to Cheraw. The team’s good play continued with a 39-point win at St. Pauls in the opening round of the tournament.
Then Richmond visited Fairmont and the winning streak came to a screeching halt. The Golden Tornadoes rallied from a seven-point first-quarter deficit to blast the Raiders, 74-55.
In the third-place contest at UNC Pembroke the next day, Dillon scored the game’s final five points to pull out a 78-74 victory.
“That’s over with and it’s water over the bridge now,” Laton said. “I thought we played well on Saturday against Dillon. We had a chance to win. We just have to be ready to play tomorrow.”
The Raiders (5-3) will have the opportunity to get back on the winning track in this weekend’s Holiday in the Pines tournament at Pinecrest. Richmond will battle Pender in the opening game of the tournament at 6 p.m. today and Pinecrest will square off with North Moore in the nightcap. The losers will meet at 6 p.m. Saturday and the championship contest is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Pender lost in the first round of the 1A playoffs last season after failing to qualify in 2012. The Patriots had three strong seasons from 2009 to 2011. During this stretch, Pender went 75-14 and lost in the East Region finals twice before falling in the state championship contest to North Rowan in 2011.
In the other contest, Pinecrest comes into its own tournament with a 2-6 mark under first-year coach Ben Snyder. Pinecrest won its season opener with Southern Lee dropped its next six before stopping R.J. Reynolds 69-62 in its last contest. North Moore, like Richmond, is 5-3 on the season and have won its last two contests. The Mustangs defeated the Patriots earlier this season 60-39 and will vie for the season sweep tonight.
Before the season started Laton said he wanted to run a modified version of Paul Westhead’s high-powered, fast-paced offense. He has now tweaked things and feels the changes will give his team a better chance at being successful and fighting for the Southeastern Conference championship.
“We are still running the break…I think we run the break pretty well,” Laton said. “We needed to play better defense. You never know until you try. I learned while playing at UNCG that as a coach you are always making adjustments. It’s a work in progress…it’s a journey.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.