PEMBROKE — Perhaps Richmond Senior boys basketball coach David Laton has found the key to getting his team off to a fast start in the first half.
Take 10 days off.
Richmond scorched the nets in the opening 16 minutes en route to an 86-75 victory over Purnell Swett Tuesday night. The win improves the Raiders to 12-5 overall and 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference. The Rams fall to 3-12 on the season and 1-5 in the conference.
Richmond was unable to play since losing to Pinecrest on Jan. 24 because of last week’s winter storm.
“That was the best half we played all year in the first,” Laton said. “We rebounded well and we blocked shots. I bet we had at least eight or nine blocks tonight.”
Just as in the previous meeting, Purnell Swett coach Jeremy Sampson knew it was going to tough for his undersized team to matchup up with the bigger Richmond team. Despite the mismatch, Sampson was pleased with the way the Rams battled to the end.
“I told my guys I’m not upset with the effort tonight,” Sampson said. “The effort was there tonight. Trying to stop their length and athleticism is tough, but I thought our effort was there and we scrapped tonight.”
Richmond’s size was the key to jumping out to a 52-38 lead at halftime as well as scoring a season-high 86 points. The Raiders were able to score 29 points inside the paint in the first half.
“I told my guys when you are that small, you have to put a body against somebody,” Sampson said. “Some of the guys are scared of contact, but we have to put a body against somebody.”
When the Raiders weren’t pounding the ball inside, Greg Patterson was making the Rams pay on the outside. Patterson scored a game-high 26 points to lead five Richmond players in double figures.
“Greg is becoming a player of the year candidate,” Laton said. “He is averaging something like 24 points a game in conference.”
Sidney Neely added 19 points for the Raiders and Tre Pettigrew knocked down 15 for the Raiders. T.J. Watkins had 12 and Raheem Bowden chipped in with 10.
Purnell Swett’s Kendrick Purdie scored a team-high 21, Tyler Maynor added 15 and Josh Brooks came off the bench to score 14.
Richmond remains one-half game behind Hoke for first in the SEC. The Bucks improved to 5-1 in conference play with a 65-51 win over Lumberton. In the league’s other contest, Scotland stopped Pinecrest 53-36. The Scots are now 3-2, while the Patriots slip to 2-4.
Richmond and Scotland will square off 7:30 today in Laurinburg in a make-up game because of last week’s winter storm.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.