ROCKINGHAM — There is a big contest looming at the end of the week for the Richmond Senior boys basketball team.
Until then, the squad has two obstacles to overcome before thinking about Friday’s showdown with Southeastern Conference leader Hoke County.
The first hurdle was cleared Monday night as Trey Pettigrew scored a team-high 17 points to lead four Raiders in double figures in a 78-67 victory over SEC foe Pinecrest.
With the win, Richmond moves into sole possession of second place in the conference with a 3-1 mark and is now 13-4 overall. Pinecrest has now dropped two in a row to fall to 2-2 in SEC play and 10-5 on the season.
The Raiders built a 20-point lead with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter on Jalen McDonald’s steal and layup. The Patriots answered with a 13-1 run to close out the period and make things interesting in the final eight minutes.
“Maybe we had some rust we had to knock off,” Richmond coach David Laton said about his team’s first game in 10 days. “I think it’s great to play tomorrow, then a have a few days off then play Friday at Hoke.”
Despite grabbing the momentum entering the fourth quarter, Pinecrest was unable to pull any closer than six points the rest of the way. The final time came with 1:04 left in the game on Justin Ray’s leaner as Richmond connected on 6 of 10 free throws in the last minute to ice the game.
For the contest, the Raiders were 26-for-37 at the free-throw line.
“That was the difference in the game,” Laton said. “We beat them in 1s and 2s.”
Laton added he wasn’t surprised his team attempted so many free throws in the contest because of Pinecrest’s style of play.
“They were very physical,” Laton said. “We were unsure of the way the officials were calling the game and sometimes we didn’t know what to do. I thought we did a good job of keeping our composure tonight.”
McDonald joined Pettigrew in double figures with 12 points. Josh Calhoun also added 12, while Shydamion Ellerbe chipped in with 11 for the Raiders.
“I thought Trey played his best game this year,” Laton said. “Jalen stepped up and gave us some good leadership and I thought Josh played an outstanding game as well.”
Richmond will return to action at 7:30 p.m. today when SEC rival Scotland visits Raider Gym. The Fighting Scots earned their first win of the season Thursday with a 60-44 road win over the Patriots.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.