FAIRMONT — Sitting on the bench with four fouls in the third quarter, Derrick Arnette knew that the Fairmont boys basketball team would have no problem getting by without him.
“I just cheered on my team,” Arnette said.”I believe in my boys. I know they got my back just like I got theirs.”
Despite seeing their 21-point halftime lead shrink to seven in the third, the Golden Tornadoes held on to defeat the visiting Reidsville Rams 75-63 in the third round of the 2A NCHSAA state playoffs on Saturday night.
Jayvon Morris led the Golden Tornadoes with 22 points. Arnette tallied 12 points, while Jaquan Hinson and Brent McDonald added 10 apiece.
“It felt good, we’re playing as a team,” Morris said. “We want to go and win the championship, so we have to come out each night and play hard.
“We need to work on our help-side defense. Basically, our offense and our defense will come to us.”
Corry Addison led the charge on the boards for the Golden Tornadoes with 13 rebounds to go along with seven assists.
Breon Pass led the Rams with 15 points, and Bryan Jenkins chipped in 14 . Reidsville ended their campaign with a record of 20-6.
“We started shaky, but we came back with a lot of poise,” Reidsville head coach Curtis Pass said. “It shows what kind of program we run in Reidsville.”
Fairmont held the Rams to just four field goals in the first half, as Reidsville earned 10 of its 19 points in that span at the free-throw line.
“You’ve got a real good team out there,” Pass said. “I can;t say that enough.”
The Golden Tornadoes’ approach changed coming out of the locker rooms with Arnette in foul trouble. One of those fouls was a technical resulting from a small scuffle in the second quarter between Arnette and Pass.
“It impacted us a lot,” Fairmont head coach Montrell McNair said. “What we try to do is use him (Arnette) to attack on the opposite side. When he got in foul trouble, it backed us off defensively, He does a lot for us.”
A 10-0 by the Rams run in the third quarter closed Fairmont’s lead to 48-36, but a pair of baskets from Hinson and Kaheem Pittman in the period’s final minutes helped minimize a comeback threat from the visitors.
The Rams rallied again in the fourth, closing the gap to 52-45 on a second-chance basket by Chance Townsend.
The Tornadoes responded with a 9-0 run, beginning with a jumper from Morris, and the Rams could not recover.
“I saw a lot of fight,” McNair said. “We knew that if we lost, that’s the end of the season. They didn’t want their season to end.
“I thought we did a good job of responding (to late rallies). We came out and settled down, got the ball inside and ran our sets.”
Fairmont will travel to Clinton on Tuesday for the East regional semifinal matchup, taking them away from a home environment that was loud and noticeably warm on Saturday.
“Our friends come and we have good supporters,” Morris said. “We’re thankful for that. We play hard when it’s hot. We’re used to it.”
Lady Pirates’ playoff run ends at Green Hope
CARY — The Lumberton girls basketball team lost in the third round of the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs at Green Hope on Saturday, 71-70.
The loss marks the end of head coach Danny Graham’s tenure at the program.
The Lady Pirates led by as much as 14 points in the fourth quarter before a late push from the Lady Falcons changed the lead into their hands in the closing minutes.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989. Follow hom on Twitter @Tester_Brandon.