Photo/Brad Crowe

Raleigh dropped its first district contest of the season on Tuesday night at home versus St. Andrews Episcopal. Though the Lions put together a few offensive runs early in the game, the defending 3A state champion Saints slowly pulled away by sticking to their guns and playing disciplined basketball. 

From the very beginning, it was clear that fouls and free throw opportunities would play huge factors in the final outcome. Five fouls on the Lions in the first quarter helped the Saints—who committed no fouls in the period—build a 16-8 lead. The Lions fought back in the second quarter, earning three trips to the charity stripe and more than doubling their first quarter points total. With three minutes left before halftime, Raleigh came within five points of the lead, but a few clutch shots down the stretch allowed the defending champs to rebuild their lead to 13 points going into the locker room. 

The third quarter was ultimately the most indicative of the overall outcome of the game. Six more fouls by the Lions and zero from the Saints was largely responsible for St. Andrews’ 20-6 scoring advantage in the period, putting the game well out of reach before the last quarter ever began. Both teams allowed their reserves and younger players to take over in the fourth, and when the buzzer sounded, St. Andrews won by a score of 74-41. 

Senior guard Elijah “Pete” Lofton led the Lions offensively with an impressive 14-point performance, but the team’s offense was not enough to overcome its penalties. The Lions committed 20 fouls in the game, compared to just eight committed by the Saints, resulting in 29 free throw opportunities for St. Andrews and just 13 free throws for Raleigh. Saints sophomore point guard Rashad Bolden led all scorers with 26 points on the night, including 16 in the third quarter alone. 

The Lions will now embark on a three-game district road trip starting Friday, Jan. 11, at Velma Jackson. On Tuesday, Jan. 15, they will travel to McLaurin, then on Friday, Jan. 18 they will battle with the rival Trojans at Magee. 

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