FAIRMONT — The Richmond boys basketball team left more than 10 points at the free throw line and turned the ball over more than it would’ve liked to in its season opener Wednesday evening.
Constant full-court pressure from Fairmont caused the Raiders to speed things up and either throw the ball away or take quick shots once they got past half court. And whenever they were able to draw fouls, they couldn’t knock down their freebies.
Those mishaps eventually led to Richmond falling to the Golden Tornadoes 63-49 in a non-conference matchup. Junior forward Xavier Pettigrew finished with a team-high 13 points and senior guard Da’Shaun Wallace added 10.
“It’s tough to win a game when you’re 9-20 from the free-throw line,” head coach Donald Pettigrew said. “The guys played hard, but we’ve got to learn how to finish games and make better decisions…we have to know situations during the game.”
Fairmont (2-0) opened the game with back-to-back layups and used that momentum to take a 17-7 lead after the first quarter. The Raiders were able fight back in the second period, however, thanks to a couple of putbacks from sophomore big man Jarvis Tillman and a three-pointer from junior Alex Quick.
Senior forward Malik Flowers dunked over Fairmont’s Cory Addison late in the half to give Richmond (0-1) a 26-24 advantage, but Addison came down on the ensuing possesion and beat the buzzer with a fall-away three — giving the home team a one-point lead heading into halftime.
A coast-to-coast layup from Wallace pulled Richmond within two points with under six minutes left in the game. After two Fairmont buckets, Wallace found Pettigrew for a wide-open slam. That, however, would be as close as the Raiders would get.
The Golden Tornadoes began pulling away late and took a 10-point lead after two free throws from Brent McDonald. Addison would cap the game with a steal and a layup right before the final seconds ticked off the game clock.
“I told the guys, no matter what, we’ve got to stay in the game. We’ve got to stay focused all 32 minutes,” Pettigrew added.
Lady Raiders can’t capitalize late
FAIRMONT — Despite a number of missed free throws and unforced turnovers, the Lady Raiders still found themselves in position to open their season with a win over Fairmont.
A rebound and putback from senior forward Saleemah Brown, followed by an Allexis Swiney layup, put Richmond within three points of the Lady Golden Tornadoes with under a minute left. It would get the ball back after forcing a turnover, but sophomore guard Keionna Love couldn’t connect on her three-pointer with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Fairmont (2-0) would seal the deal with three free throws in the final seconds and grab a 55-51 victory.
Junior guard Taliah Wall — who fouled out late in the third quarter — scored the Lady Raiders’ first six points of the game, as her steal and layup gave the team a 6-5 advantage with 3:35 left in the opening period. A three-pointer from sophomore guard Hailey Miller answered a long-range shot from Fairmont’s Morgan Scott and tied the game at 11-all.
The Lady Golden Tornadoes would end the first quarter with a 12-11 lead thanks to a late free throw from Kiara Page.
Richmond (0-1) was led by freshman Jakerra Covington’s six points over the next two quarters and found itself trailing 39-32 heading into the fourth quarter. That seven-point deficit, however, gradually turned into a tie ball game after junior forward Dannon Shepard and Swiney scored on back-to-back layups, and then Swiney knocked down a free throw.
Fairmont’s Jufaye Williams’ layup sparked the home team’s late-game run, but Page — who finished with a game-high 29 points — was the one who helped the home team separate itself and hold on for the win.
Swiney, a sophomore guard, had a team-high 12 points for the Lady Raiders and was the only player to reach double figures. Wall and Covington chipped in nine and eight points, respectively.
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.