ROCKINGHAM — A dominant victory last week helped head coach Bryan Hinson realize that the Richmond junior varsity boys basketball team had finally found its rhythm.
The Raiders only defeated conference foe Purnell Swett by a single point when they traveled to Pembroke early last month, but left no room for error with a 34-point thrashing of the Rams this past Friday inside Raider Gymnasium.
“We had the same team and they had the same team,” Hinson said of the teams’ second meeting. “I just think we’re starting to hit our stride and gel. The players are buying in to what we’ve got going on.”
In his third season as coach, Hinson has been impressed with how smooth his younger players have made the transition from middle school to high school. Freshman Patrick McLaughlin is the team’s on-the-floor coach at the point guard position, keeping everyone calm and directing traffic with the ball in his hands.
“One thing about Patrick is he never gets rattled. He plays at his own tempo,” Hinson said.
Sophomore forward Joerail White is the leading scorer and has been the “muscle” and vocal leader for the junior varsity Raiders, who have had a couple players leave for the varsity squad. Freshman guard Caleb Hood was called up a month ago and sophomore guard Quamir Sivells was grabbed earlier this week.
Despite the losses, however, McLaughlin, White and the rest of the junior varsity team continue to show how much everyone on the roster embraces the team motto: Next man up.
“The both of them (Hood, Sivells) are great ball players, but we don’t miss a beat. I can go one through 12 and any one of them can play,” Hinson said. “Our strength is our depth.”
Learning under varsity head coach Donald Pettigrew and assistant coach Frank Harrington has helped Hinson evolve as a teacher on the sidelines and played a part in him leading the JV squad to a 14-2 overall record last year.
This season, the Raiders are 6-3 and hope to have nine wins by the end of the week. They host Pinecrest on Thursday, travel to Jack Britt on Friday and then welcome New Life Academy on Saturday.
In order to reach that goal and the others, which include winning the conference, Hinson is making sure that his players stay committed to one another throughout the process.
“I have to let them know that it’s about our common goal,” he said, ”and no one else can affect that.”
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.
Freshman guard Patrick McLaughlin, right, sets up a play during Wednesday’s practice.