He didn’t have to reveal the reward, because it was there for the taking.
Coming off a loss at East Columbus earlier in the week that snapped the team’s 37-game league winning streak, the Golden Tornadoes answered their coach’s call by crashing the boards and dominating inside, holding off the Bulldogs, 70-55.
Down by as many as 13 in the second half, St. Pauls cut the deficit to three with 5:07 remaining. But Fairmont responded with an 8-0 run of its own, keyed by six points from leading scorer Kwinton Hinson, who finished with a game-high 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Fairmont Senior forward Charlton Townsend had his best outing of the season, tallying 15 points and 16 boards. It was Fairmont’s third consecutive conference title.
“The loss on Tuesday woke the guys up,” Baker said. “I really made them get after it in practice the last two days. We focused on offensive and defensive rebounding because we weren’t being physical enough.”
In his first start of the season, Townsend bruised his way to seven points in the opening quarter and set the tone for what was a hard-fought battle until the end.
“Hurt foot or not, we told him he needed to step up and play,” Baker said. “I’m proud of all the guys for working hard and winning another championship. It’s never easy.”
In the girls’ game, Fairmont senior Anasia Evans scored a go-ahead layup with 1:08 remaining then ripped the ball away for a steal in the waning seconds as the Lady Golden Tornadoes held off St. Pauls, 40-38.
Foul trouble dooms Lady Mustangs
LAKE WACCAMAW — South Robeson freshman sensation Aterria Quick hit a mid-range jumper before heading to the bench on the ensuing possession after fouling out in the fourth quarter Friday night at East Columbus.
The Lady Mustangs’ transition offense — and a game-high 32 points — went with her.
Foul trouble doomed South Robeson down the stretch as the Lady Mustangs’ run toward a Three Rivers Conference title came to an end on the road, 65-56.
“They stayed in the game thanks to all our fouls and took advantage,” South Robeson coach Lula Ratley said. “When Aterria fouled out, that hurt us. We didn’t go to the line much ourselves, and that hurt us. We gave it a good run, and now we’ll regroup for the conference tournament.”
Lumberton sweeps rivalry games
PEMBROKE — Lumberton’s girls’ and boys’ basketball teams swept Purnell Swett in the regular-season finales Friday night, taking care of the Rams, 42-24 and 69-55, respectively.
In the boys contest, Demetri Sheridan poured in 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for the Pirates while Montrae Strother led the backcourt with 11. Lumberton (9-14, 4-6) will take on Scotland at home in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
“It was your typical back-and-forth rivalry game,” Lumberton coach Mackey Register said. “They fought, we fought and it was a really well-played game. We took our first lead with four minutes left and was able to hold it.”
Keanna McNeill continued her recent hot-shooting streak in the opening contest and nailed five 3’s on her way to a game-high 18 points. In Tuesday’s loss to Scotland, McNeill hit six shots from long range.
The Lady Pirates (18-5, 8-2) finished in second place in the SEC and earned a first-round bye in next week’s league tournament.
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at MrPalmettoSDS.