Wildcats claw their way past the Raiders

By Shawn Stinson

December 21, 2013

Shawn Stinson

Sports editor

PEMBROKE — After missing on a hook shot moments earlier, Dillon’s JaQuan Knowlin wanted another chance.

He got it.

Knowlin hit a turn-around jumper with 12 seconds remaining to give Dillon the lead for good in a 78-74 win over Richmond Senior Saturday afternoon.

“I thought I got to make this time,” Knowlin said about his go-ahead basket. “I had to do it for me and my boys.”

The victory allowed the Wildcats to claim third place in the annual Robeson County Shootout.

In an up-and-down contest where the biggest margin for either team was five points, the lead changed hands three times in the final 1:37.

Richmond’s Sidney Neely connected on one of two free throws to push the Raiders in front 72-71. Dillon’s Anthony Blue had a steal and a layup as the Wildcats grabbed the advantage.

After the Raiders were unable to convert on their next possession, they were forced to foul three times to get the Wildcats into the bonus. Eventually, Julius Saunders was sent to the free-throw line, but missed the front end of the 1-and-1.

On the rebound, Richmond’s T.J. Watkins was fouled and went to the line with 29.1 seconds in the game. Watkins drained both free throws to give the Raiders a 74-73 lead.

The Wildcats brought the ball down the court and worked the ball around the perimeter before finding Knowlin down on the block. Knowlin attempted a quick hook, but came up short. The rebound was batted out of bounds off a Richmond player, setting up Knowlin key play.

“I was ready to call a timeout if we needed it,” Dillon coach Harold Wilson said. “It wasn’t a specific play we called, it was a read. We put the ball in the hands of our point guard (Saunders) to make something happen and he got it to JaQuan.”

Richmond raced the ball up the court following Knowlin’s basket, but Greg Patterson lost possession while driving towards the basket. Dillon’s Gabe Salmon scooped up the loose ball and converted an old-fashion 3-point play to seal the win for the Wildcats.

Richmond coach David Laton said he didn’t want to use a timeout because he thought his team would have an opportunity during the normal flow of play.

“I was thinking they might come out a trap us if we called time,” Laton said. “We had done a good job of scoring in transition all game. I thought we would draw a foul or kick it out for a shot.”

Watkins finished with a team-high 21 points for the Raiders and was named to the all-tournament team. Patterson added 18 in the loss. Knowlin netted 23 to lead the way for the Wildcats and Saunders chipped in with 20.

Richmond will return to action 6 p.m. Friday against Pender in the first game of the annual Holiday in the Pines tournament at Pinecrest High School.

Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.