ROCKINGHAM — With just under a minute left, Richmond Senior appeared to have the game wrapped up.
It was leading by nine and had possession of the basketball following an intentional foul.
Then in a blink of eye, the Bulldogs sliced the lead to one.
The “sure” win turned into a struggle until Greg Patterson drained two free throws with six seconds remaining in the contest to allow the Raiders to escape with a 52-49 win over the Bulldogs Tuesday night.
“Luckily for us Greg made a couple of big free throws,” Richmond coach David Laton said. ” We ran our motion offense pretty good tonight, but where we really fell down was on the (other) end.”
Sidney Neely hit one of two free throws after the intentional foul on Andre Underwood to give Richmond a 50-41 advantage. On the ensuing possession, Patterson missed the front end of a one-and-a-bonus to give Marlboro a little spark of hope.
Reggie McLeod scored on a driving layup to trim the margin to seven. Following a timeout, the Raiders inbounded the ball to T.J. Watkins. The Bulldogs were able to knock the ball free and Hallis Larkins cut the lead to 50-45 on a putback.
Demetrius Knox was fouled driving to the basket after another Richmond turnover. Knox converted both free throws to make it three-point game at 50-47 with 18.9 seconds left. On their next possession, the Raiders were able to move the ball into the frontcourt, but Xavier Davis missed a layup. The Bulldogs raced the ball down court and Larkins scored on another putback.
Richmond’s nine-point cushion vanished as Marlboro cut the lead to 50-49 with 10 seconds remaining.
“We made a couple of bad passes there at the end,” Laton said. “We can’t get stripped and we can’t miss layups.”
After Patterson hit his two free throws, Underwood was unable to fire a possible game-tying shot at the basket as he lost control of the ball at the top of key as the final horn sounded.
Laton credits Davis for playing solid defense not giving Underwood an opportunity to score at the end.
“I told Xavier to push him to his weak hand and he didn’t get a shot off,” Laton said. “Xavier did a good job on him.”
Only five Richmond players scored in the game, led by T.J. Watkins’ 12 points. Neely and Patterson both had 11. Tre Pettigrew scored nine points and grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds.
The Raiders are now 8-4 on the season and have won their last three games after a midseason three-game losing streak. Richmond will begin Southeastern Conference play 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hoke, last season’s league champion.
— 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.