ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior held a comfortable 11-point lead over visiting Douglas Byrd with less than two minutes remaining in the contest.
Then things got a little interesting as the Raiders were unable to hit their free throws and committed several turnovers down the stretch.
Richmond nearly squandered its advantage but in the end turned back Douglas Byrd 85-81 Friday night at Raider Gymnasium.
“I don’t think it was really too much about our ball-handling as it was our free-throw shooting,” Richmond coach David Laton said the Eagles’ rally. “When we were on offense, we had guys who could handle the ball. When we were on defense, we put guys in who can rebound and play defense.”
The Raiders connected on just 20 of its 43 free-throw attempts in the contest and were 7 for 16 in the final five minutes of the game.
“That will definitely change by the next game,” Laton said. “Let’s remember, it’s only the second game of the year.”
And for two of Laton’s players — Shydamion Ellerbe and Raheem Bowden — the conclusion of their second week back on the hardwood after concluding the season with the football team. Ellerbe scored 15 points for the second straight game, while Bowden netted eight off the bench after recording a career-high 21 Tuesday against South Robeson.
“It’s tough,” Ellerbe said about making the transition. “I’m not in basketball shape yet, plus I still hurt from football.”
Richmond (2-0) was once again without two of its starters who are out with injuries, Josh Calhoun and Jordan Richardson. Ellerbe thought their absence was felt down the stretch, but knows the team will keep battling until the pair is able to return.
“We will work hard in practice on Monday and get ready for Cheraw,” Ellerbe said.
Greg Patterson led five Raiders in double figures with 16 points. Jalen McDonald and Trey Pettigrew each chipped in 14 in the victory, while Kendo Wallace added 13. Andrew Murray scored a game-high 22 points to lead the way for Douglas Byrd (1-4). Kendall Hillman knocked in 18.
Richmond will return to action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when its travels to Cheraw, S.C.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.