ROCKINGHAM — It was a slow start for the Raiders, but they eventually found their groove and then used that momentum to earn its first win of the season Tuesday evening.
The Richmond boys basketball team hosted Purnell Swett in their home, and conference, opener and got double-digit efforts from juniors Xavier Pettigrew and Malik Stanback and senior Da’Shaun Wallace in a 77-65 victory. Pettigrew led the way with 17 points, Stanback knocked down two three-pointers on his way to 15 points and Wallace scored seven of his 14 in the fourth quarter.
“Everybody knows their roles,” head coach Donald Pettigrew said. “Like I was telling the guys, once we start going inside, the outside is going to be wide open. Guys are going to concentrate on us posting up and then we can kick it out — and it’s going to be a lot easier for everybody else.”
A steal by senior guard Darius Butler turned into a layup for senior forward Malik Flowers, which cut the home team’s deficit to just four points, in the early going. Three consecutive layups from junior Alex Quick got the crowd going and Butler was able to end the opening period with a drive and a layup — giving the Raiders an 18-15 lead.
Richmond (1-1, 1-0 SAC) picked up its efforts on the defensive end in the second quarter and held the Rams without a bucket for a little over five minutes. Purnell Swett’s Kyler Page put an end to the drought with a layup at the 2:55 mark.
“We started off slow but defensively we got a whole lot better. That’s going to keep us in a bunch of games,” Pettigrew said.
Flowers started the second half off with a dunk down the middle of the lane and then Stanback got going with a couple of layups and his two makes from beyond the arc. The Raiders took a 20-point lead with 1:26 left in the third quarter, but the Rams fought back in the final period.
Butler finished with nine points, Quick and Flowers added six, senior Carl McNeal had five, senior Kaleb Douglas chipped in four and senior Rod Newton made one of his two free throws. Purnell Swett (2-1, 0-1 SAC) was carried by Page, who finished with a game-high 30 points, and Darriante Parker’s 15.
“It was very big,” Pettigrew said of the team opening SAC play with a win. “We’ve got a short-term goal of going 3-0 this week, so we’ve just got to take it one game at a time.”
Lady Raiders’ pressure pays off
ROCKINGHAM — The Lady Raiders turned up the full-court pressure against Purnell Swett on Tuesday.
Head coach Rosalind McDonald still thinks there are some things that need to be worked on, but she was pleased with the team’s improvement from last week. Starting guards Allexis Swiney and Taliah Wall used their speed to cause problems in the backcourt and that led to Richmond grabbing a 59-39 victory in its home opener.
“They’re very fast girls and it’s their job to just anticipate and keep the momentum at a certain pace. So that’s what I expect from them,” McDonald said of Swiney and Wall. “Just let their speed work in their favor.”
After scoring 10 points and only leading by three at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Raiders (1-1, 1-0 SAC) used an 18-point burst in the second quarter to separate themselves for good. Sophomore guard Hailey Miller’s three-pointer kicked things off and then senior forward Lexyonna Ingram and Swiney took over from there.
Ingram’s efforts on the offensive boards in the second period led to three early trips to the free throw line, where she went 3-6 in that span, and then she added a layup late in the half. Swiney’s putback gave Richmond a 20-9 lead and forced Purnell Swett (0-3, 0-1 SAC) to call a timeout.
The sophomore didn’t let up out of the break, however, as she scored back-to-back layups in order to add to the momentum. A running left-handed floater and a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Keionna Love capped the scoring for the Lady Raiders before the half.
“I think with Lex (Ingram) being a senior and her stepping up and having a great game really boosted her confidence and improved the morale of the team,” McDonald said. “Any time you can jump out and get a big lead, it’s going to be a confidence booster for everybody who goes into the game. And that’s what we need every single game from the both of them.”
Swiney finished with a game-high 17 points and Ingram added 11, while Miller, Wall and junior Jordyn Horne all chipped in six points. The Lady Raiders had 11 players score at least one point in the win.
“It was great to get everyone playing tonight, because we might not have a lot of games where everyone gets to play,” McDonald added. “When they come off the bench, they have to be ready to go just like our starters.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at email@example.com. For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.