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Men’s Basketball Drops Close Contest with Apprentice 76-74

Drew Hayden
Drew Hayden scored nine points on 4-of-8 shooting off the bench for Randolph.

LYNCHBURG, Va.- Randolph men's basketball hosted Apprentice School in a non-conference game on Wednesday night at the RAD Center. It was a tight contest for 60 minutes as the visiting Builders were able to come away with a 76-74 win. Apprentice improves to 4-1 on the season while the WildCats drop to 4-2.

Neither team had a double-digit lead with Apprentice's six-point advantage late in the first half being the largest of the game. The score changed hands eight times and there were 17 ties throughout the evening.

The WildCats led 12-9 with 12:40 remaining in the first half. The Builders would go on an 11-2 run to go ahead 20-14 with 7:46 showing on the game clock. Randolph responded with a 7-2 run to trail 22-21 with 5:16 left. Apprentice upped its advantage to 30-25 at 2:43 and was ahead 34-30 with 10 seconds to go. Brian Smith (Dumfries, Va./C.D. Hylton) sank a three-point basket with time expiring as it was a one-point game at the half, 34-33.

The second half saw both teams exchange baskets in the first two minutes. The 'Cats' lead was 41-40 at 16:50 until Sammy Hooper (Richmond, Va./Midlothian) drained a three to up Randolph's lead to 44-40. The score was 46-45 and back-to-back layups by Justin Dula (Taylorsville, N.C./Alexander Central) would give the WildCats their biggest lead of the night at 50-45 with less than 14 minutes to play.

Apprentice would go ahead by four, 54-50, with 11:38 remaining. Randolph came back to lead briefly but the score again changed hands. Randolph went ahead 70-69 after a pair of free throws by CJ Loving (Madison Heights, Va./Amherst County) with just under two minutes left. The Builders converted a layup at 1:26 to go up 71-70. Apprentice saw its lead grow to four points, 75-71, with 14 ticks remaining. Hooper swished a three-point basket with eight seconds left to pull Randolph to within one point. The WildCats would foul and Apprentice's Brandon Joyner converted the second of his two attempts. With time remaining for a potential game-winning shot, Loving turned the ball over on the inbounds play and the game was over.

Hooper led Randolph with 19 points and also picked up six rebounds. Smith added 17 points, four assists, and two steals. Evan Makle (Dumfries, Va./Christ Chapel Academy) and Drew Hayden (Vinton, Va./William Byrd) both scored nine points to lead the WildCat bench. Elijah Ford (Chantilly, Va./Chantilly) totaled eight points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Apprentice was the better shooting team as it converted 25-of-66 (44.6%) of its attempts compared to 26-of-66 (39.4%) for Randolph. The WildCats were better from beyond the three-point arc as they shot 11-of-25 (44%) to 4-of-12 (33.3%) for the Builders. Free throw shots were the biggest different with the Builders going 22-of-26 (84.6%) from the charity stripe to the WildCats' 11-of-17 (64.7%). Randolph controlled the glass with a 40-37 edge.

The WildCats go back across town this weekend to compete in the Wayne Proffitt Classic at the University of Lynchburg. Randolph will take on #22 Christopher Newport on Saturday at 4:00 p.m.