RICHLANDS — The Croatan boys basketball team took a step back in the race for the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference Friday with a 51-42 loss to Richlands.
The Cougars (6-6 overall) simply ran out of steam in the loss to the Wildcats (3-9), blowing a 36-34 lead in the fourth quarter with just six points to Richlands’ 17.
The loss drops Croatan to 3-2 in league play, down a game to East Carteret (4-1) and more to Pender (6-0) but still tied with Dixon (3-2) for the top 2A spot in the conference. Only one 2A team from the split conference is guaranteed to make the state playoffs.
Andrew Mendolia led the Cougars in scoring with 13 as the only one to reach double figures. Major Hawkins and Aaron Keel scored six each, Hayden Crow and Jack Riley five apiece, Ryan Bellamy three and Daquan Dillahunt and Dustin Hayden two each. Crow, Keel and Riley each sank a three-pointer.
Lead scorers for Richlands were Branten Fountain with a game-high 17 and Dominic Green with 14. Dejour Brown had eight points, Jaden Jenkins had seven, Chandler Caldwell three and Trey Jones two.
There were a whopping 54 foul shots taken in the game, with Croatan shooting 10-of-21 and Richlands 18-of-33. The Wildcats’ best free-throw shooter was Fountain who went 9-of-11 there. Richlands took 27 free throws in the second half, sinking just 13.
Croatan will host Pender Friday for its only game this week.
Here are results of the games:
Croatan........... 11 15 16 6-42
Richlands........ 11 9 14 17-51
CROATAN (42) – Mendolia 13, Hawkins 6, Keel 6, Crow 5, Riley 5, R. Bellamy 3, Dillahunt 2, Hayden 2.
RICHLANDS (51) – Branten 17, Green 14, Brown 8, Jenkins 7, Caldwell 3, T. Jones 2.