OCEAN — A bad first quarter made a tough night at the office for the Croatan boys basketball team on Friday.
The Cougars fell at home to Richlands 82-65, dropping to 1-3 in the 3A Coastal Conference and moving to 10-6 overall.
The Wildcats (10-7 overall) were explosive out of the gate, jumping out to a 15-2 lead with help from a technical foul called on Croatan and ending the quarter up 22-8.
To compound the issue for the Cougars, Richlands earned seven shots at the foul line in the first quarter and 10 more in the second. The visitors went 15-for-17 to help maintain a double-digit lead through halftime.
The two teams came into the game battling for fourth place in the conference. With the win, Richlands improved to 2-2 in league play and is tied with Swansboro for third place.
West Carteret (4-0) leads the conference, and White Oak (3-1) is in second.
The Cougars were only outscored 60-57 in the final three quarters. They managed to cut the lead to single digits on a handful of occasions and dropped it to seven twice in the second quarter.
The first time, Luke Green hit a layup to make it a 30-19 game, Trey Jones sank two free throws to cut the deficit to nine points, and Holden Martin hit a step-back jumper to make it 30-23.
Jones led the Cougars with 18 points, Green scored 15 and Martin added 11. Max Cardona and Jadon Davidson added six points apiece.
Richlands’ Zarion Walters had the biggest effect on the first quarter that got out of hand for the Cougars. He scored 10 points in that period and finished the half with 16. He led the game with 24 points.
Dashawn Hooker scored six in the first quarter and finished with 22 points. He was the Wildcats’ best option at the charity stripe, shooting 12-for-15 and going to the line six times in the second quarter.
The technical that was called on Croatan, as well as the second one called on the bench in the fourth quarter, marked a carryover from a girls game that included three technical fouls as officials appeared to draw a line over criticism from players and coaches on both teams.
There were 38 fouls called in the boys game, with 27 called on the Cougars. Richlands shot 20-for-27 at the free-throw line. Croatan finished 7-for-11.
Croatan will travel to Swansboro on Wednesday for its first matchup with the Pirates (12-3 overall). The Bucs fell to White Oak 69-54 on Friday.
Richlands will host Swansboro on Monday.
Here are results of the game:
Richlands........................... 22 22 17 21 - 82
Croatan............................... 8 25 16 16 - 65
RICHLANDS (82) – Walters 24, Hooker 22, Padgett 14, Simeo 11, Halter 8, Coffin 3,
CROATAN (65) – Jones 18, Green 15, Martin 11, Cardona 6, Davidson 6, Hilliard 3, S. Boyette 2, Clemens 2, Woody 2.