ROCKINGHAM — Although it didn’t break the school record for most points in a game, or score 50 points in the fourth quarter, the Richmond Senior boys basketball team was still able to grab a win in order to improve to 2-0 on the early season.
Richmond’s full-court pressure, combined with their length and athleticism, helped the team cause 33 turnovers in a 104-78 win over Union Pines on Friday.
Darius Butler wasted no time after the Raiders won the tip, as the junior knocked down a three-pointer on the opening possession. That early spark gave the home team some momentum and it jumped out to a 22-10 lead before the Vikings were forced to call a timeout.
Devonta McNair would hit a three-pointer following the timeout, but Union Pines was able to weather the storm and end the first quarter trailing 31-21.
The Raiders struggled to get going in the second quarter and the Vikings brought the game to within five points with 5:06 left in half. However, the home team found a way to get the ball in the basket and scored 11 unanswered points to increase its lead — and enter the break with a 57-34 lead.
“I felt like in the third quarter, we really pushed the game out of reach right there,” coach David Laton said. “I thought it was a good win…I was very pleased.”
Union Pines (0-3) got 30 points from guard Jayson Upchurch, and an additional 20 points from big man Kamua Farley, but pressure from the Raiders was too much for the Vikings to handle.
Richmond (2-0) tacked on another 57 points in the second half and cruised to its second victory.
14 Raiders scored at least one basket on the night, with Jordan Tillman’s 14 points leading the way. McNair (13), Leon Zeigler (12) and Antonio Diggs (10) were the other double-figure scorers.
“It was a great balance,” Laton said. “They share the ball and do a good job. I told them at halftime, ‘In the second half, you’ve just got to go as hard as you can and be strong with the ball around the basket’ — which we did a better job with.”
Turnovers doom Lady Raiders
The Richmond Senior girls basketball team saw Union Pines go on a 10-2 run early in Friday night’s game and was never able to bounce back, as it went on to lose 52-40 in its second game of the season.
Union Pines was able to capitalize on Richmond’s inability to hold on to the ball and keep the opposing team’s guards out of the lane. The Lady Vikings put some pressure on the Lady Raiders and forced a handful of turnovers throughout the game.
“We knew Union Pines was going to come out and pressure the ball,” coach Rosalind McDonald said. “That’s something that we’ve really go to work on in practice more. What are we going to do with the ball when we see that kind of pressure?
“Because going into conference, that’s what we’re going to see nightly.”
After giving up 20 points in the first quarter, and only scoring six, the Lady Raiders was able to turn the tide in the second quarter. Richmond (0-2) only put up 10 points but held Union Pines (3-0) to just six in order to go into halftime trailing 26-16.
The third quarter, however, is where both Cameron McCutchen and Nyona Shields helped separate Union Pines from the home team. The speed and hustle from the backcourt duo gave the Lady Vikings a much-needed boost after the break and the pair finished with a combined 28 points on the night.
Richmond was once again led by Zelda McLaughlin, who tallied a team-high 16 points.
Saleemah Brown, Mya Holiday, Alexis Swiney and Chloe Wiggins chipped in four points apiece. Keiona Love (3), Zariah Williams (3) and Veronica Griffin (2) rounded out the scoring for the Lady Raiders.
“We have a young team. We’re still trying to find the best combinations on the floor and they’re still learning to play together,” McDonald explained. “I think because we are so young, sometimes the pressure can be a little intimidating. So, we’ll grow and improve in that aspect.”
JV teams grab wins
CAMERON — Lexis Ingram and Malik Stanback led the junior varsity girls and boys basketball teams, respectively, to wins at Union Pines on Friday.
Ingram scored 23 points in a 58-29 win for the girls team. Haley Miller was second on the team with 13 points and Dannie Shepherd came in third with 9 points.
Stanback had a team-high 16 points in a 77-35 road win. Malik Crowder and Jordyn Wall added 15 and 8 points, respectively.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.