Hoops rankings heading into conference play

By Jonathan Bym - Staff writer
Jonathan Bym | The Robesonian Fairmont and senior guard Derrick Arnette embark on the final one-month stretch to try and secure its ninth Three Rivers Conference title in a row. -

LUMBERTON — It’s a new year and the halfway point of the basketball season, and for many teams a New Year’s resolution could be to add a few more marks in the win column.

After the Robeson County Shootout, four of the combined 12 boys and girls teams in Robeson County have a winning record, and the other eight will look to creep to .500, or above in the Sandhills Athletic and Three Rivers Conference. The race to the conference championships is a little more than a month away.

Before conference play resumes for teams this week, here’s how the teams in the county stack up.

BOYS

1. Fairmont

A no-brainer for the top stop after cruising through the Robeson County Shootout, and for all but one of the game to start its season is the Golden Tornadoes. Fairmont won the Shootout championship by 18 points over Lumberton and sit at 10-1, with the triple-overtime loss to West Columbus as the only blemish. Along with those Vikings, Fairmont and Red Springs seem to be favored to take the boys Three Rivers Conference crown.

2. Red Springs

After taking third in the Shootout and sitting undefeated at the top of the Three Rivers Conference standings, Red Springs looks to challenge Fairmont’s eight-year streak of dominance of the conference. Tonight’s meeting at Fairmont between the two teams is a big meeting for the standings and two weeks ago was the closest game Fairmont had in the Shootout by a 66-57 score. A chance to snap the 23-game losing streak to the Golden Tornadoes is will within reach this year for Red Springs.

3. Lumberton

After back-to-back losses to Fairmont heading back into conference play, Lumberton looks to get its bearings back in order in the tough Sandhills Athletic Conference. With Richmond and Purnell Swett on the Pirates’ schedule the next two weeks, a chance to get a couple more wins in the league are attainable for them. Lumberton has lived on the edge this season with some close wins and close losses, and will look to reverse the results of the close losses going against conference foes again.

4. Purnell Swett

After a close loss to Red Springs to open the Shootout, the Rams showed they have the capability to hang with some of the area’s top teams. With a roster featuring some of the most talented players in the county, Purnell Swett has a chance to finish outside of the bottom of the league standings. After dropping their last 12 games against Lumberton, the Rams also have a chance to snap that streak.

5. St. Pauls

Sitting on the outside of the top 3 in the Three Rivers Conference, the Bulldogs got a pretty nice Christmas gift with a newly-painted and resurfaced gym floor. Consistent guard play will need to come from St. Pauls’ backcourt so it can compete in a league that features teams with excellent guard play.

6. South Robeson

Behind a defense that will serve it well come conference play, South Robeson’s energy level helps keep it in games. The Mustangs were able to keep their game against Lumberton from getting too far out of reach in the Shootout, and followed it up with another close loss to St. Paul. If it can learn to close games and win the close ones, South Robeson can surprise teams this year.

GIRLS

1. Lumberton

Much like the Fairmont boys, Lumberton’s girls faced little resistance through the Shootout, and now it returns to Sandhills Athletic Conference play. In its last game of conference play, the Lady Pirates lost on the road at Pinecrest for their first loss in over a year to a conference foe. While winning the conference last year, things came easy, but that won’t be the case to win the league this year.

2. Red Springs

After three losses to Lumberton this year, the Lady Red Devils assume the second spot in the rankings and find themselves at the top of the Three Rivers Conference standings, half a game ahead of East Bladen. The Lady Eagles and Red Springs seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

3. Fairmont

The Lady Golden Tornadoes, much like nearly every other conference team has gave Red Springs a scare this season, with an eight-point margin in the Shootout. Tonight’s meeting between the two teams will be a good indicator of how the teams spent the time off last week preparing for the second half of the year.

4. Purnell Swett

The Lady Rams secured twice the amount of wins it had before it entered the Shootout in the three-game tournament, but still is in search of its first league win in over a conference opponent in the last 33 tries. To end the streak, Purnell Swett must improve on its poor scoring output this year at 32 points per game.

5. St. Pauls

After dropping the rematch of the overtime season-opener to Purnell Swett in the fifth-place game of the shootout, the Lady Bulldogs look to move forward their turnaround season. Now back into a conference that features more evenly-matched opponents, St. Pauls will continue to hang in the middle of the pack.

6. South Robeson

A quick two games in the Shootout is all the Lady Mustangs had to show from the tournament and now they take on the conference slate that they have also struggled against. With one conference win so far, South Robeson looks to find better fortune in the new year.

Jonathan Bym | The Robesonian Fairmont and senior guard Derrick Arnette embark on the final one-month stretch to try and secure its ninth Three Rivers Conference title in a row.
https://www.robesonian.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_Derrick2017212391248920171128183580201811194545850.jpgJonathan Bym | The Robesonian Fairmont and senior guard Derrick Arnette embark on the final one-month stretch to try and secure its ninth Three Rivers Conference title in a row.
County teams return to hardwood for new year

By Jonathan Bym

Staff writer

Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at jbym@robesonian.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.

Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at jbym@robesonian.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.