Shooting woes sink Raiders

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, January 8, 2015

Outside of point guard Andrew Lowe, the Southampton boys basketball team has had trouble putting the ball in the basket this season. The junior has averaged 18.3 points per game in his last three outings, but the team stumbled to a 1-2 record over the holiday break.

“We’re struggling to find our shot,” said head coach Chris Pope. “We have other people on the team that can shoot the ball well, but it’s just not falling for them.”

As if it wasn’t already hard enough to win without an efficient offense, the Raiders also played a man down in the Battle of the Border Tournament at Brunswick Academy. Senior Captain Matt Rose did not play in the tournament for unspecified reasons, so the bulk of the load fell upon Lowe’s shoulders.

He pitched in a season-high 29 points in the tournament opener against Crossroad Christian, but the effort was for naught as the Colts won, 73-60.

“It was just that kind of game,” Pope said, explaining that his team was in foul trouble throughout the contest. As a result, Crossroads Christian made 38 foul shots, compared to Southampton Academy’s 12.

The lack of offensive execution was most evident in the team’s lone victory, however; a 37-36 nail-biter against Halifax Academy.

“We had no inside presence, and we didn’t shoot the ball well enough to win,” Pope said. “We were able to hang on because our defense had three consecutive stops to end the game.”

With a chance to ice the game at the free throw line, the Raiders missed four of five shots in the final minute to give the Vikings a chance to steal a win at the buzzer.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a good experience to win a close game like that.”

Lowe was, once again, the team’s leading scorer, accounting for 10 of the Raiders’ 37 points. Junior forward Harrison Pope also added eight.

At the conclusion of the tournament, Southampton Academy traveled to Kenston Forest for its first conference game of the season. Rose returned to the Raiders’ starting lineup, but looked rusty as he managed only six points.

“He needs to be more assertive on the offensive end,” said Pope. “He grabbed 14 rebounds (10 defensive, 4 offensive), but I want him to look for his shot more than he did.”

Despite that, the Raiders raced out to a 15-8 lead behind Lowe’s 10 first quarter points. He would finish with 16, but did not see much of the court in the second half due to foul trouble.

“We lost the game in the third quarter,” said Pope. “Andrew played only three minutes in the second half, and without him, we had no offense.”

The halftime lead turned into a seven-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, and the Kavaliers only pulled away from there to win, 57-45.

Friday’s game against Richmond Christian will mark Southampton Academy’s first home game of the season, and the Raiders, 6-4, 0-2 in the Virginia Commonwealth Conference, are the only team in the state to play their first 10 games of the season on the road.

“We’ve lost some close games, so I know we’re on the brink,” Pope said. “We have to continue to improve, especially since the competition only gets better from here on out.

“If shooting improves, I know we can compete with anyone.”