LUMBERTON — Four of the six Robeson County basketball teams that qualified for the NCHSAA state basketball tournament will play at home in tonight’s first-round games.
After earning conference tournament championships on Friday, the Lumberton girls and the Fairmont boys basketball teams host their first-round games, along with the Red Springs girls and boys teams. The boys teams from Lumberton and St. Pauls are on the road to open the playoffs.
Fairmont (26-1) was tabbed as the third seed in the 2A East bracket and opens against No. 30 Graham (10-14). The Golden Tornadoes have won 23 straight games since falling to West Columbus in triple overtime back on Dec. 5. Tipoff for the contest is 6 p.m.
Graham has three players averaging double figures in seniors Chandler Fuller and Collin Torain and 6-foot-7 junior T.J. Nesmith, and finished fourth in the Mid-State Conference. The winner of this matchup meets up with Hertford County or Cummings.
After the come-from-behind victory over Pinecrest to win its third conference tournament title in a row, the 12th-seeded Lumberton girls (23-4) host fellow Sandhills Athletic Conference member No. 21 Seventy-First (16-10) at 7 p.m. The Lady Pirates won both meetings against the Lady Falcons in the regular season.
The first meeting on Dec. 12, Lumberton pulled out an eight-point victory, 62-54, and then topped Seventy-First at home in a 64-44 win on Jan. 26. The Lady Falcons finished fourth in the conference. The winner travels to No. 5 Holly Springs who gets a first-round bye.
Red Springs hosts the playoff doubleheader, starting with the girls game at 6 p.m. and the boys to follow approximately at 7:30 p.m.
The Lady Red Devils’ (18-7) first-round draw is No. 20 Farmville Central (14-9). No. 13 Red Springs was bounced in the semifinals of the Three Rivers Conference tournament last week and now takes on the Eastern Plains Conference tournament champions that played their way into the playoffs after ending the season as the fifth-place team in the league. The winner takes on the victor from the meeting of Richlands and James Kenan.
In the boys game, No. 15 Red Springs (17-8) takes on No. 17 North Lenoir (13-11), the fourth seed out of the Eastern Carolina Conference. The Red Devils will look to rebound after sputtering down the stretch with five losses in its last seven outings, with three coming in that span to West Columbus. The second-round matchup pits the winner of the two against either No. 2 Clinton or No. 31 East Montgomery.
For the first time in three seasons the Lumberton boys (14-12) are back in the state playoffs and will travel to No. 14 Millbrook (15-12). The Pirates earned the 19th seed in the 4A East and peaked late in the year to win seven of their final nine games, and beat Seventy-First in the conference tournament to seal the playoff bid. The Wildcats finished third in the CAP 7 Conference and have a pair of seniors, Adrian Scarborough and Jabari Brown, leading the team with double-figure scoring averages.
No. 3-seed Heritage awaits the winner.
St. Pauls travels to Greene Central for the second year in a row, this time in the first round instead of the second-round meeting the teams had last year. No. 9 Greene Central (21-6) came in second place in the Eastern Carolina Conference to Kinston, but features the height of juniors Imajae Dodd at 6-foot-7 and Tayon Edwards at 6-foot-6 along the frontline, and 6-foot-6 guard Donte Johnson . The Bulldogs were the 24th seed in the 2A East and finished fourth in the Three Rivers Conference standings. Northern Vance or Providence Grove await the winner.
Tipoff for the two road contests are at 7 p.m.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.