ROCKINGHAM — At this time of year, it doesn’t matter about winning with style — it’s all about surviving.
Richmond Senior did just enough in its first-round matchup with Southeast Raleigh to pull out a 77-73 victory Monday night at Raider Gymnasium.
The Raiders led 73-65 with 1:09 left in the game and appeared set to cruise into the next round. Then over the next 41 seconds — a seemingly insurmountable advantage vanished — as Richmond turned the ball over on two consecutive possessions. The Bulldogs cut the deficit to 74-73 and after another Raider turnover had the chance to retake the lead with 28 seconds remaining.
On the inbounds pass, Justin Morris sliced into the lane but lost control of the ball, giving possession back to Richmond. Josh Calhoun hit both of his free throws and Shydamion Ellerbe went 1 of 2 at the line, allowing the Raiders to escape with the win.
“We didn’t panic,” Richmond coach David Laton said. “We threw it away a couple of times late, allowing them to cut it to one. Josh did a good job, he was 10-for-12 at the free-throw line in the fourth. That was huge for us.”
The Bulldogs (15-11) had an opportunity to seize control of the game early in the fourth quarter. Leading 52-51, Southeast Raleigh’s Demetri Lyons was fouled while driving down the lane by Raheem Bowden. Moments later, Bowden was whistled for a technical foul, giving the Bulldogs four free throws and possession of the ball.
“Nobody is going to dunk on me,” Bowden said. “I was trying to get the guys pumped up. I felt the game was flat and we needed some intensity.”
Lyons hit his first two attempts before misfiring on his next two. Southeast Raleigh was unable to convert a jumper on the ensuing possession and Bowden answered with a layup to spark an 8-0 run which gave Richmond the lead for good.
“Raheem redeemed himself,” Laton said. “He scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter. He hit two big free throws and had some nice rebounds.”
Bowden was inserted into the game after Jordan Richardson fouled out with 7:20 left in the game.
“I had a role to come off the bench to score,” Bowden said. “I did what I had to do for the team.”
Richmond (19-8) will travel to Hoke County 7 p.m. Wednesday in the fourth meeting between the two schools this season. Hoke advanced with an 83-54 win over East Wake. The Bucks have won all three games with the Raiders, including a 78-60 win Friday night in the Southeastern Conference tournament title contest.
“We didn’t talk about Hoke at all. We talked about this game,” Laton said. “Tomorrow we will prepare for them. What happened is in the past. There is no residue, no dividends…Wednesday is a new game.”
In other contests involving SEC schools: Middle Creek eliminated Pinecrest, 60-54, and Apex ousted Lumberton, 61-58.
The Richmond girls team had its season end with a 66-43 loss at Southern Durham. Scotland was the lone SEC girls team to advance. The Fighting Scots took out E.E. Smith, 59-47. Clayton bounced Lumberton from the playoffs with a 62-55 victory, while Apex downed Pinecrest, 50-42.
— 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.