SOUTHERN PINES — Richmond Senior was poised to end three games of frustration as it raced out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter.
Then North Moore started finding the range from beyond the 3-point line. And the Mustangs kept bombing away.
When the final horn sounded, Richmond withstood North Moore’s barrage from the arc to hold on for a 75-66 victory Saturday night to claim third place in the annual Holiday in the Pines at Pinecrest High School.
The win improves the Raiders to 6-4 on the season and snapped a three-game losing streak, while the Mustangs fall to 5-5.
Richmond coach David Laton was pleased to head into the new year with a win but added his team has to improve before returning to the court 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Anson.
“We have a lot to work on,” Laton said. “We have to get loose balls and rebound better.”
Another point of contention for Laton is defending the 3-point line as the Mustangs connected on 10 against the Raiders.
“I had to remind the team to stay on the shooters and not leave them alone,” Laton said. “We have to get smarter.”
North Moore coach Grant Smith sat two of his starters in the loss and thought shortening his bench affected his team’s shooting at the end of the game. The Mustangs only hit one 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
“We had some chemistry issues but those got squared away today,” Smith said. “Playing without our two leading scorers forced us to change what we normally do. We hit some shots which helped spread out the defense. Not taking anything away from Richmond, but going from an eight-man rotation to six hurt us.”
The Raiders used their height and strength to control the boards and alter several shots inside the lane. Sidney Neely scored 16 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked six shots in the win. Neely was one of five players in double figures for Richmond.
T.J. Watkins also netted 16 and Tre Pettigrew added 13 for the Raiders. Pettigrew scored five of his points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer with 2:39 left in the game to extend Richmond’s lead to 73-63. Pettigrew was named to the all-tournament team.
“I thought we shared the ball really well tonight,” Laton said.
Malik McCrimmon led the way for North Moore with a game-high 26 points. McCrimmon joined Pettigrew as an all-tournament pick. Tristan Matthews and Matthew Spivey added 15 and 12, respectively. All of points by Matthews and Spivey came from behind the 3-point line.
In the championship contest, Pender outlasted Pinecrest 37-32.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.