The Golden Tornadoes (22-5) were unbeaten two years ago heading into the postseason and received a top seed before falling in the second round at Burlington Cummings. Fairmont has won three straight regular season conference titles but saw its two-year streak as champions of the league tournament squashed at home Friday by East Columbus.
That loss squandered an opportunity at receiving a No. 2 seed which would’ve guaranteed the Golden Tornadoes three home games on their path to regionals.
Led by Robeson County’s leading scorer Kwinton Hinson, Fairmont opens the playoffs Monday at 7:30 p.m. against East Duplin (8-17).
“We need to work on some things before Monday, get mentally tougher,” Fairmont coach Michael Baker said. “We need to come out and play with more fire. I'm disappointed with the way the offense is playing because our defense is fine. It is what is.”
Fairmont’s girls (12-13) host local rival and Shootout runner-up West Bladen at 6. The Lady Tornadoes have lost twice to West Bladen this season.
"Hopefully this time around we can make some adjustments and give it our best shot," Fairmont coach Chris Rodriguez said.
St. Pauls (16-8), coming off its best regular season in five years, hosts Croatan (19-5) in an 8/9 contest. Should the Bulldogs win, a date with top-seeded Jacksonville Northside is probable on Wednesday.
Under head coach Travis Lemanksi, St. Pauls is 1-2 in the state playoffs.
"They're in a tough conference and they've got 6-foot-7 kid that' pretty good," Lemanksi said. "We'll identify their shooters and get our best defenders out there."
Michael White’s Lady Bulldogs have a more favorable contest as a No. 4 seed against Burlington Cummings, a rematch of last season’s first-round affair.
Danny Graham’s Lady Pirates, the No. 2 seed out of the Southeastern Conference, host No. 12 Clayton. Lumberton (18-6) has lost in the first round back-to-back seasons. The Lady Pirates could meet up against with Scotland (21-3), the SEC’s regular season and tournament champion, on Wednesday in the second round.
After securing a fourth-place league finish to earn the SEC’s final invite, Montrae Strother and the Lumberton boys (10-15) travel to Apex to take on the third-seeded Cougars (18-9) out of the Tri-Nine Conference.
South Robeson’s girls return to the postseason for a date with Heide Trask in Rowland. Red Springs’ girls, as a No. 12 seed, go to James Kenan.
As Robeson County’s last team in, Glenn Patterson’s Red Springs boys (6-16) secured a wild-card berth Friday afternoon with a winner-take-all victory over South Robeson in a 1A tiebreaker at Fairmont. They’ll play as a No. 12 seed at Southwest Onslow.
Red Springs is the area’s last team to reach regional play, finishing one game short of a berth in the state championship game during the 2010-11 season.
Purnell Swett’s boys and girls teams as well as South Robeson’s boys did not qualify for the postseason.
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at MrPalmettoSDS.
NCHSAA Playoff Pairings
4A: No. 14 Lumberton at No. 3 Apex; 2A: No. 9 Croatan at No. 8 St. Pauls; No. 14 East Duplin at No. 3 Fairmont; 1A: No. 12 Red Springs at No. 5 Southwest Onslow
4A: No. 12 Clayton at No. 5 Lumberton; 2A: No. 9 West Bladen at No. 8 Fairmont; No. 13 Cummings at No. 4 St. Pauls; 1A: No. 9 Heide Trask at No. 8 South Robeson; No. 12 Red Springs at No. 5 James Kenan