With over 700 hoops fans crammed shoulder-to-shoulder inside the Fairmont gym, the Golden Tornadoes looked right at home in more ways than one. Fairmont shot 51 percent from the floor (23-of-45) and knocked down nine 3-pointers on its way to a 67-56 win over the Pirates.
Fairmont held Lumberton, which was four days removed from a road win over St. Pauls, to 41 percent from the floor with two threes.
“We’re happy for the win, because after 19 days you don’t know what you’re going to get, you just hope to compete,” said Fairmont coach Michael Baker, whose Tornadoes (8-3) topped the Pirates (5-8) in overtime in the teams’ first meeting this season on Nov. 30. “We knew it was going to be tough. They played us tough down in Lumberton. We knew we had to play hard. I mean, its Fairmont-Lumberton. We’re 10 miles apart.”
On the scoreboard, however, Fairmont’s Kwinton Hinson and Shemar Barfield put Lumberton at a distance.
The slashing and jump-shooting specialists combined for 36 points, with Hinson netting a game-high 20 and Barfield following with 16.
During the final 2 minutes, 23 seconds of the third quarter, Barfield racked up 10 of Fairmont’s last 13 points, including a stretch of eight straight, to give the Tornadoes a 57-40 cushion heading into the final frame.
“They were trying to catch us on D so I thought I’d take over at the time — we needed points,” Barfield said.
Barfield’s scoring burst — he drained two 3-pointers and tipped in two missed shots during his 10-point flurry — came on the heels of a 7-0 Lumberton run that cut it to 42-36 with three minutes left in the third.
“Shemar can get on streaks when he can hit everything,” Baker said. “I’m glad he hit that streak, it was just in time. We were playing back-and-forth, cat-and-mouse, and Shemar gave us that separation we needed.”
The Pirates’ Montrae Strother, who poured in a team-high 18 points, kept Lumberton within striking distance in the first half with relentless dribble-drives to the cup. He triggered the biggest ooh-and-ahh from the crowd in the final seconds of the half when he spun off his defender and knifed in a runner as he was fouled with 0.4 on the clock, cutting Fairmont’s lead to 30-23 at halftime.
But the gap wouldn’t stay single digits for long. Less than two minutes into the second half, Hinson and Jackie Oxendine connected on back-to-back threes to push Fairmont’s lead to 38-26 and put the Golden Tornado crowd into a frenzy.
Hinson and Oxendine’s threes set the table for Fairmont’s decisive 27-point third quarter.
Oxendine hit four threes on the night for 12 points.
“We got the rust off,” Hinson said. “It’s a big win with the rivalry. This is probably the biggest crowd we’ve had.”
Fairmont is back on the court tonight at West Bladen for a final tuneup before it christens Three Rivers Conference play Friday at South Robeson.
Lumberton opens its Southeatern Conference season at Pinecrest Friday.
Lady Pirates too much for Fairmont
The Lumberton girls basketball team won their seventh game in a row with a 65-44 victory over Fairmont. The Lady Pirates, who led 34-19 at halftime, have bested the Golden Tornadoes three straight times this season.
Aliyah Ratley and Keanna McNeill led the way for Lumberton (8-3). with 16 and 14 points, respectively. Jordan Jones chipped in 10.
Anasia Evans and Na'Jewel Ingram netted 12 apiece for Fairmont (7-5). Marsha Clewis added 10.