RED SPRINGS — Keeping pace with an adversary that rarely falters is never easy, but Red Springs is doing its best this season.
Fairmont’s surprising loss to Whiteville last week re-opened the door for the Red Devils in the Three Rivers Conference championship hunt and on Monday night, they took advantage.
Tavion Atkinson’s late steal and layup followed by four free throws in the final 15.4 seconds from Jared Foster helped Red Springs seal a 55-50 victory over the confident Wolfpack, a win that puts the Red Devils within striking distance of first place with two games remaining in the regular season.
If Red Springs (15-6, 10-2) can win out against West Columbus and St. Pauls, Fairmont (15-5, 10-1) would need to sweep South Columbus, East Columbus and South Robeson to win its fourth consecutive league title outright.
A loss by the Golden Tornadoes would mean co-conference champions even though Fairmont holds the tiebreaker for playoff seeding purposes thanks to three wins over the Red Devils this season.
“Being able to beat Whiteville is a good measuring stick for where we’re at as a team, but we’ve got to be able to find a way to beat Fairmont,” Red Springs coach Glenn Patterson said. “Maybe South Columbus can give those guys a run when they play.”
Following a 12-point loss loss to Fairmont on Jan. 7, Patterson accurately predicted the Golden Tornadoes would have a hiccup somewhere on the schedule the rest of the way. But the Red Devils didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, falling again by double digits the next time the two rivals met at Fairmont on Feb. 4.
“I knew it would happen,” Patterson said. “I think it’s mental more than anything. We allow (Fairmont) to take our heads out of the ballgame. We’re still in the race and I’m proud of this team for continuing to fight.”
Monday’s win was a gritty one as Red Springs pulled ahead by 12 in the fourth quarter before Whiteville (15-4, 8-4) closed the gap to within three on Brandon Best’s 25-footer with 22 seconds to play. Forced to foul Foster, Red Springs’ top scorer this season, the Wolfpack never got closer as the senior point guard drained every free throw he attempted over the final two possessions.
“I challenge them not to quit when we got the lead,” Patterson said. “I just told them that it was time to close, time to finish. We got the ball in Jared’s hands and he knocked down some shots when we had to have them.”
The Wolfpack’s loss snapped a three-game winning streak and late surge toward the top of the Three Rivers. Coach Jerry Singletary’s team is one of the most athletic in the league and held a lead throughout the first half against Red Springs before a 9-2 run to open the third quarter put the Red Devils ahead to stay.
Foster finished with a game-high 22 points and didn’t come out of the game after intermission despite injuring his hip with 3:19 left in the second quarter. The Red Devils have won 15 of their last 18 games this season.
“I’ve said all along that if not the best, Whiteville was one of the best teams all around in our conference,” Patterson said. “We battled them down there and they had us by 20 before we fought back and won by two. That’s a good basketball team.”
Whiteville cools off Lady Red Devils
The Red Springs girls basketball team saw its five-game winning streak snapped Monday night against Whiteville, 41-39.
Trailing by a basket, the Lady Red Devils (10-11, 8-4) had nine shots from the floor and three free throws rim out in the final 90 seconds to snuff out their bid for sole possession of second place in the Three Rivers Conference.
Madison Hinson scored a team-high 12 points to lead the Wolfpack. Robyn McPhaul netted 13 for Red Springs while Shantanna Norris scored 12 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and collected nine steals.
Scotland stops Purnell Swett
LAURINBURG — Travis Miles made five of six free throw attempts in the final minute of the game to help Scotland hold off Purnell Swett for a 64-59 win Monday night.
Miles, who finished as Scotland’s leading scorer with 20 points, made three separate trips to the free throw line at the end of regulation. His points kept the Rams at bay for just long enough. The final minute of the game was drawn out longer as both coaches had saved up several timeouts.
The Rams would send Miles to the line, then make a bucket to draw within three or four points, before fouling Miles and starting the sequence again. Scotland coach Michael Malpass said Miles tends to be the calmest player under pressure, so he wanted to give him the ball if it was possible.
“We wanted the ball in his hands. Every in-bound play where we knew we were going to be fouled we designed for him,” Malpass said.
Scotland improves to 6-11 overall and 5-3 in the conference, while Swett is now 3-14 and 1-7.
The Scots had opened up a 10-point lead at halftime before Swett got back into the game.
Purnell Swett’s girls lost 75-33 and fell to 5-13 overall and 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference.
South Rob wins 3rd straight
The South Robeson girls won their third straight, beating South Columbus 58-44. A’Terria Quick had 22 points and Savannah Hunt had 14. The South Robeson boys lost 80-56.
Weather moves county games
Athletic events on Tuesday were moved to other dates due to inclement weather and further schedules changes are likely. Public Schools of Robeson County athletic director Jason Suggs says some teams could makeup games on Saturday and St. Pauls is the first to do so.
The Bulldogs will host East Columbus at 2 p.m., varsity only, and Scotland and Lumberton will as well, with girls’ play starting at 4 p.m.
Monday’s Red Springs/Whiteville games were played in advance of the storm.
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Red Springs 55, Whiteville 50
Red Springs 9 19 15 12 — 55
WHITEVILLE — Kendrick Brady 12, Tyshon Smith 11, J. Bellamy 9, Adams 6, Collier 4, Best 3, Kirk 2, Floyd 2.
RED SPRINGS — Jared Foster 22, Jamison Baker 10, McLaurin 9, Atkinson 6, Chavis 6, Blue 2.
3-Point Goals – WHT: Smith 2, Bellamy, Best. RS: Baker 2, McLaurin, Foster.
Technicals — WHT: Collier.
Fouled Out — WHT: Adams.
Records — Whiteville 15-4, 8-4; Red Springs
Whiteville 41, Red Springs 39
Red Springs 7 11 16 5 — 39
WHITEVILLE — Madison Hinson 12, Geena White 10, Wilson 6, Vereen 5, Pridgen 5, Parker 2, McMillan 1.
RED SPRINGS — Robyn McPhaul 13, Shantanna Norris 11, Mack 6, Leach 5, Pecina 4.
3-Point Goals – WHT: White 2, Hinson, Pridgen. RS: McPhaul, Pecina.
Technicals — RS: McPhaul.
Records — Whiteville 9-9, 8-4; Red Springs 10-11, 8-4.