It was a sign of things to come.
In the air and on the floor, the Purnell Swett boys couldn’t keep up with the high-rising Raiders on Friday night, falling 66-46 in a Southeastern Conference opener at Purnell Swett High School in Pembroke.
“Their length, you can’t simulate that in practice,” Swett coach Jeremy Sampson said of the Raiders, whose starting lineup runs 6-feet-plus across the board. “That’s tough. We scouted them well I thought, but their very athletic.
“They’re going to be tough. They’re going to be one of the better teams in the SEC.”
The Raiders (11-3, 1-0) flexed their towering traits right from the tip. After Swett’s James Chavis, who had a team-high 17 points, drained a pull-up 3-pointer to give the Rams (2-8, 0-1) a 9-5 lead, Richmond bullied its way to a 13-0 run in the last 3:34 of the first quarter to go up 18-9 after the first period. Richmond switched from a 2-3 and 1-3-1 zone that proved nearly impenetrable for the Rams who — due to Richmond covering so much of the floor — struggled to find the lane and get off open looks outside.
“I told the guys, we just didn’t execute against their zone,” Sampson said. “We just didn’t get in the gaps and made bad passes … We didn’t get a chance to run our man offense with their zone and I said if we stay behind their going to stay in that zone.”
Moreover, the Raiders commanded the glass and pushed the pace on the break. In the final minute of the first quarter, quick run outs led to wide open threes from Calhoun and Xavier Davis to cap Richmond’s 13-0 run.
“I thought our rebounding made the difference tonight,” Richmond coach David Laton said. “And we started running the break better and getting second shots. We made our free throws and made our shots, it was a good win. It’s nice to be 1-0 (in the conference).”
Swett chipped away at the deficit in the second quarter on the shoulders of center Mike Pipkin who scored six straight points to pull the Rams within four at 23-19 with 4:19 to go in the half. Pipkin scored a career-high 14 points.
In a blink, however, Richmond’s lead was back to double-digits after a 9-0 run. Kenneth Wallace highlighted the spurt with consecutive acrobatic alley-oop lay-ins — he caught the latter with one hand and finger-rolled it off the backboard as he flew underneath the hoop.
When the dust settled, the Raiders held a 32-21 lead at halftime.
Richmond kept the pace in the third, anchored by Shydamion Ellerbe, who poured in a game-high 19 points. Ellerbe stuffed in a one-handed dunk at 4:53 in the frame as the Raiders took a 41-25 lead. Minutes later, after Swett went on an 8-0 spurt, Bowden finished off his second alley-oop of the night, this time with two-hands on the rim.
Even though it was only the third quarter, it served as an exclamation point on the Raiders’ SEC win over the Rams. Richmond swelled the lead up to 20 in the fourth and never let up.
“After the dunks our guys just kind of got deflated and hung their heads,” Sampson said. “But we’re going to keep working. We’ll be fine.”
Lady Raiders too much for Swett
Colleen Chavis’ 17-point, 11-rebound double-double wasn’t enough for the Purnell Swett girls basketball team in their 65-50 SEC loss to Richmond County.
Swett was put in the rearview midway through the first quarter when the Lady Raiders compiled a 12-2 run, capped by back-to-back runners from Kivena Keane, to claim a 14-5 lead after the first quarter.
Richmond (3-9, 1-0), which snapped a nine-game losing streak with the win, was anchored by Shaquail Wall who had a team-high 14 points.
Kayla Locklear added 10 points for the Lady Rams (1-9, 0-1).