For the second time this season, Hoke’s Tarique Thompson dominated the post against Lumberton and fueled the Bucks to a 77-64 victory Tuesday. At 16-1 overall, Hoke is expected be one of the 4A’s top seeds in the playoffs barring any unforeseen struggles over the regular season’s final two weeks.
At this point in the season, Fairmont is playing like Fairmont and the Golden Tornadoes’ toughest opponent the rest of the way could be themselves. Draquaine Floyd and his teammates have played nearly perfect during a 10-game winning streak, pounding the opposition into submission in the Three Rivers Conference.
For that, Fairmont moves up this week.
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6. St. Pauls (3-15, 2-5): The Bulldogs are fading fast. Tuesday’s home loss to South Robeson was the culmination of a disappointing stretch defined by a lack of effort defensively and missed opportunities at the offensive end. Antonio Henderson has been St. Pauls’ only constant this season, but even he couldn’t save the Bulldogs from their sixth straight loss.
5. Red Springs (2-15, 2-5): Jameson Baker is coming into his own as one of the county’s top perimeter threats, evident by his 21-point, four 3-pointer outing in Friday’s win over St. Pauls. This season might be a wash for the Red Devils, but Baker gives Red Springs and coach Glenn Patterson a viable option moving forward.
4. South Robeson (3-14, 2-5): South Robeson, the same team that gave up 91 points to Fairmont last week upended St. Pauls on the road Tuesday. The Mustangs are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference with three winnable games remaining. If South Robeson finishes .500 in league play, despite the conference’s lack of quality teams, head coach Bryan Grice deserves some consideration for the league’s top coach.
3. Purnell Swett (13-6, 4-3): Swett moved to within a game of second in the Southeastern Conference after Tuesday’s narrow win over Richmond. Coupled with Lumberton’s loss to Hoke, the Rams can solidify a playoff spot with two wins in their final three games. That will still be difficult considering two of those three contests are against the Pirates and the league-unbeaten Bucks. Juwan Jones is having an All-SEC first team caliber season as he fittingly creeps closer to wrapping up his prep career in the backcourt.
2. Lumberton (13-7, 5-2): Lumberton’s shooters went cold and so did the Pirates’ stay at No. 1 in the poll this week after last night’s home loss to Hoke. The shots that fell in Lumberton’s first matchup with the Bucks clanked off the iron the second time around as the Pirates moved another game back in the SEC. Lumberton’s home finale with Swett on Feb. 10 looms large. It could decide the conference’s second-place team outright.
1. Fairmont (15-4, 7-0): Lob City, high school hoops style. I was informed by a reader at Tuesday’s game against West Columbus that Floyd and Jerrod Neal hooked up on an alley-oop that was worth capturing on tape. The Golden Tornadoes were coming off a mesmerizing 52-point first half in Friday’s win in Rowland. With a playoff pod seeding priority likely in their favor this season, Michael Baker’s bunch could be just getting started.
Reach Staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at firstname.lastname@example.org