ROCKINGHAM — Coming off his first postseason appearance as coach of the Richmond Senior boys basketball team, Donald Pettigrew is back to work.
The third-year, former Raiders standout hopes the intense summer schedule this offseason has prepared his young bunch for the upcoming Sandhills Athletic Conference slate and beyond.
“The chemistry, man, it’s awesome. I think we’ll be fine,” Pettigrew said of his current roster that is projected to return four starters.
“We just got to continue to be better and continue to do the little things.”
This summer, the Raiders were given ample opportunity to perfect the “little things,” as Pettigrew says they were continually engaged in various team workouts since March.
He had them compete against other programs on a consistent basis and estimates a total of 35 games that spanned different tournaments and jamborees. One of the more prominent exhibitions was the East Coast Invitational Team Camp in June that featured 28 of the top teams in the state, including South Central, the reigning 4A champions.
Pettigrew saw great strides from his core group during this stretch and was impressed given the fact they had to run with just seven players on most occasions.
The Raiders will be without two all-conference performers from a year ago in forward Xavier Pettigrew and guard Roderick Newton, who both graduated.
Now, most of the attention will be on junior Nygie Stroman who was the third member from last year’s group to make the All-SAC squad.
“I think he can be tremendous. I think he’s up for any challenge this year,” Pettigrew said of Stroman.
“Hopefully, he can continue to grow as a player.”
At, 6-foot-6, Stroman proved he could be an elite scorer in the SAC, averaging over 18 points per contest during the team’s eight-game win streak in the latter stages of the season.
He and 6’6 senior center Jarvis Tillman, provide a formidable front in the post.
Tillman flashed his long wingspan to collect four swats and 9.8 rebounds per game.
“He’s probably the best shot blocker in the league. He can guard 1 through 5…and his growth from his sophomore year has gotten so much better,” Pettigrew said of Tillman.
Tillman and Stroman look to anchor the Raiders’ patented 3-2 zone defense that has given opposing teams fits because of the size, length and athleticism.
P.J. McLaughlin looks to take over the starting point guard role for an offense Pettigrew calls “very versatile.” The junior speedster has gained the trust of his coach over the summer and anticipates to have the ball in his hands for the majority of the game to initiate the break and half-court sets.
Meanwhile, Pettigrew said other x-factors will have key roles in the team’s ultimate success. He mentioned first-year varsity player Dillon Lewis, who is a wiry wing with a nice outside touch that can also put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket.
With the eventual addition of football players Caleb and Kellen Hood, along with Jakolbe Baldwin and Dalton Stroman, Pettigrew looks to add explosiveness, defense and toughness to what he hopes can be a conference-championship contending group.
Richmond will compete in a pair of tune-ups ahead of the 2019-20 season-opener at home against Anson on Nov. 19.
Donnell Coley can be reached at 910-817-2671 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @Sportsinmyveins.