Raiders defend home court

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, January 14, 2015

After playing the first 10 games of the season on the road, the Southampton Academy boys basketball team returned home to face the Richmond Christian Warriors on Friday night. The Raiders, previously the only team in the state that had not played a game on its home court this season, fed off of the crowd’s energy to force 21 turnovers in the 46-40 victory.

“It was the difference in the game,” said head coach Chris Pope. “We had 16 turnovers, too, but that meant that we had five more shots on goal than they did.”

In what amounted to a narrow six-point victory, Pope said each of those extra shots were crucial in crunch time.

“It was the best defense we’ve played against all year, and they applied a full-court press the entire game,” he said. “It was a back-and-forth game, and we seemed to struggle offensively, throughout. They led by one after the first quarter; we led at the half and heading into the fourth.

“We were just able to put the ball in the basket down the stretch.”

Junior point guard Andrew Lowe led the Raiders in scoring with 14 points, while senior center Matt Rose and junior forward Harrison Pope pitched in 12 and 10, respectively. Lowe is averaging a team-high 16.9 points per game, also good enough to rank among the top 50 scorers in the state.

It’s easy to credit players for their offensive acuity, but Pope lauded his team, especially Rose, for the defensive effort on Richmond Christian’s star junior, Austin Gray.

The 6-foot-5 forward is considered a top 10 player in the class of 2016, but Rose held Gray scoreless from the field in the final frame and forced him to a season-low 15 points on the evening.

“Matt’s defense was another key in the game. He frustrated him,” Pope said. “He had 15 points, which seems like a lot, but seven of them came from the free throw line.”

Southampton Academy will hit the road twice this week, with games at Tidewater Academy and Amelia Academy, marking the last time that the Raiders will play consecutive road games this season. At 7-4, 0-2 in the Virginia Commonwealth Conference, the team will only benefit from playing six of their final nine games at home, thereafter.

“We have some tough matchups with some talented teams coming up, so it gives us an advantage. Being able to get most of our road games out of the way will benefit us, and we’re lucky the schedule just kind of laid itself out that way.”