Looking to sustain momentum

Published 4:01 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Randolph-Henry High School varsity boys basketball team is 4-3 after completing the 2016 portion of its schedule, winning its last two games of the year in lopsided fashion.

As his team enters the new year, Statesmen Head Coach James Graves is looking for consistency with the way it has been performing thus far.

“I think I can look at our season right now and honestly say that we could have won all of our games and should have probably won all of our games,” he said.

Randolph-Henry’s only losses have come to Central Lunenburg High School, Bluestone High School and Amelia County High School.

The Statesmen’s most recent games clearly illustrated why Graves is so pleased with their play. They stunned the visiting Chatham High School Cavaliers 71-43 on Dec. 15.

“(The Cavaliers) were undefeated coming in and had beaten Dan River (High School) two days before,” Graves said. “Dan River was regional runner-up last year.”

Randolph-Henry trailed by as much as nine points in the first half, and it was behind 27-24 at halftime.

“And then we just completely annihilated them in the second half,” Graves said. “We outscored them 47-16.”

The Statesmen went with a much smaller lineup in the last 16 minutes of play, changed their defense, applied some pressure and were accurate from the charity stripe.

“We cashed in foul shots,” Graves said. “That was a big part of this game. I had three players that if I combine their foul shooting they were 20-for-21.”

Those three players included senior forward Jesse Redd, who was 9-for-10, junior guard Jordan Jones, who was 6-for-6, and junior guard/forward Tremaine Pugh, who was 5-for-5.

Chatham was only 8-for-20 from the foul line for the game, while Randolph-Henry ended up 24-for-31.

Redd finished with 21 points, Pugh had 13 and Jones had 12.

Sophomore guard Jashon Puryear also produced 12 points, hitting three 3-pointers, including two back-to-back, which created what Graves described as a key momentum shift in the game.

“All of a sudden we’re up by double digits, and they fell apart,” he said.

Junior guard Nasheim Pettus had only six points but led the Statesmen defense and was key to the

team’s overall game plan coming together.

“Regardless of how many points he has, he had an excellent game all the way around,” Graves said.

In Randolph-Henry’s penultimate game of 2016, it routed visiting Cumberland High School 57-38 on Dec. 13. The Statesmen led 26-15 at halftime and outscored the Dukes 23-11 in the third quarter to expand the advantage.

Pettus led R-H with 15 points, Pugh, Redd and Jones had nine apiece and junior forward/center Billy Brantley Jr. had eight.

“Those are probably our best two games,” Graves said.

On Wednesday, the Statesmen end a 20-day layoff between games when they visit Prince Edward County High School at 7 p.m.

“Prince Edward’s always a hard place to play, and Coach (James) Scott always has them well-prepared,” Graves said. “I don’t know how much effect the layoff will have. You’re kind of on a run — we’ve won three out of our last four, and it could have been four out of four — and then you get a two-week break. We’ll just see how much rust there is going into that game.”

Randolph-Henry hosts Buckingham County High School on Friday at 7 p.m.

“That’s a big rivalry,” Graves said. “It’s been one of those things where we usually win at home, and they usually win at their place.”

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Statesmen visit the Nottoway High School Cougars.

“I hear that they’re a pretty good team, as well,” Graves said, adding that their gym is one the Statesmen have struggled at in the past.

Randolph-Henry begins playing opponents for the second time after that contest.