ROCKINGHAM — It was a rough start to the season, but the Raiders will look to continue their turnaround when they face off against Trinity of Durham and Chapel Hill in the first round of the Holiday in the Pines Tournament.
Richmond (4-5) lost five of its first six games before winning three straight last week. A four-game losing skid was ended last Tuesday when the Raiders escaped Southern Lee by one point, and then won the Anson County Shootout — for the second straight year — with wins over Parkwood and Chesterfield last Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Now the focus is on Trinity (6-2) and Noah Dinkins, a 6-foot 4-inch junior guard who averages 23 points per game. The battle between the Raiders and the Lions starts at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We’re looking forward to the different teams we’re playing and the different styles,” head coach Donald Pettigrew said. “We just want to continue to compete and get better as a group.”
Since junior forward Xavier Pettigrew — the team’s leading scorer — went down with an MCL sprain at Hoke County nearly two weeks ago, the Raiders have been forced to embrace the head coach’s motto: next man up.
Guards Malik Stanback, junior, and Da’Shaun Wallace, senior, have highlighted the scoring efforts through Xavier Pettigrew’s absence. Stanback recorded a team-high 13 points versus Southern Lee and Wallace posted a season-high 21 points against Parkwood.
They were also integral parts of the team’s double-digit victory over Chesterfield.
“I told the guys that more guys have to step up and score. To compete in our conference, we’ve got to be able to score points,” Donald Pettigrew said last week.
With Richmond’s early struggles in the past and it now enjoying a three-game win streak, Donald Pettigrew wants his team to use the Holiday in the Pines Tournament, which is held at Pinecrest, to “get ready for this last stretch of conference play.”
The tournament’s field — along with Richmond and Trinity — includes Holly Springs, New Life Christian Academy, Pinecrest and Windsor Forest (Ga.). Holly Springs and Windsor Forest will kick Wednesday’s action off with a 6 p.m. start.
The winner of the first-round matchup between the Raiders and the Lions will face New Life Christian in the semifinals on Thursday. Pinecrest will take on the winner of the Holly Springs-Windsor Forest game at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“It’s all about playing good at the right time. If we’re playing good at the right time, anything can happen,” Pettigrew said. “We’re going to continue to build what we’re trying to do and get guys tuned in for the full 32 minutes on defense.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.