ROCKINGHAM — There is nothing like senior leadership in a close game.
Richmond Senior coach David Laton and Lumberton coach Mackie Register thought that was the difference in the Raiders’ 63-59 come-from-behind victory Friday night.
Richmond seniors Shydamion Ellerbe, Jordan Richardson and Josh Calhoun combined to score 48 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter.
“Those three stepped up and led the way for us,” Laton said.
The Raiders (16-5, 6-2) trailed 39-25 early in the third quarter before mounting a comeback behind their senior trio.
“They’re a veteran, well-coached team, while we’re an up-and-coming team…I hope,” Register said. “They did their job when they needed to at the end.”
Richardson scored five of his 16 points in a 10-second span in the fourth quarter to give the Raiders the lead for good. Trailing 47-46, Richardson completed an old-fashion three-point and added a layup moments later. Ellerbe added a layup of his own 22 seconds later to push Richmond’s advantage to 53-47 with 4:25 left in the contest. Ellerbe finished with a game-high 17 points.
“Jordan sprained his ankle earlier in the day in PE class and he had it taped up,” Laton said. “He gutted it out and played hard.”
Calhoun, who scored 15, drained a 3-point field goal from the left wing earlier in the frame to cut Lumberton’s lead to 47-46.
Both coaches believed Richmond’s defense made the difference in the second half.
“We really picked it up in the second half,” Laton said. “We needed something after only scoring six points in the second quarter. I told the team to relax and rebound because our defense would get us back into it.”
Register agreed and added his team’s woes at the free-throw line didn’t help the Pirates maintain the lead.
“We didn’t handle their pressure well in the second half,” Register said. “We were ready for their 2-3 zone but they surprised us by coming out in a man-to-man, which I thought benefited us because we tried to push the ball and get some easy baskets before they were set up. Going something like 3-for-14 at the line isn’t going to help.”
Lumberton falls to 7-14 on the season and 2-6 in the Southeastern Conference.
Richmond will return to action 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pinecrest. The Raiders downed the Patriots earlier this season 78-67. Pinecrest improved to 14-6 overall and 5-3 in the SEC with a 55-52 victory Friday over Purnell Swett.
— 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.