Considering the number of scenarios in play for Three Rivers Conference finishes after Friday night’s games, the final standings fell into place rather easily. Unfortunately, teams from South Robeson (girls and boys), West Bladen (girls and boys), Fairmont (girls), East Bladen (boys), South Columbus (girls) and East Columbus (boys) were right back on the court this (Saturday) afternoon in the opening round of the conference tournament. Seeds seven through ten had to play on Saturday to determine Monday and Tuesday’s quarterfinal contests. Those match ups can be found below.
East Columbus Girls captured the most significant win Friday. The Gators 41-34 win over West Columbus clinched the TRC sole automatic 1A playoff bid. East Columbus also moved into fourth place in the final standings which allows it to host St. Pauls in Monday quarterfinal play. The West Columbus boys led East Columbus 21-7 after one period. Two Jake Brownlee dunks in a 10-second span and Dejour Smith’s 30-foot bank shot at the buzzer had the Viking Senior Night crowd whipped into a frenzy. The Gators chipped away and eventually took the lead in the third quarter. With the score tied at 44-all in the fourth, the Vikings went on a 19-8 run to end the game and secure the 63-52 victory and sole possession of second place.
Whiteville’s boys 49-36 win over South Columbus was also big because it kept the Wolfpack out of seventh place and avoids playing in Saturday’s opening round. The Wolfpack girls’ fourth-quarter comeback against South Columbus gave Whiteville solo third place. South Columbus led 28-24 after three periods, but the Wolfpack outscored the Stallions 19-7 in the fourth.
The rest of the TRC contests were rivalry games in Robeson and Bladen counties. The only result that might be considered an upset was last-place South Robeson’s girls defeating Fairmont 54-41. However, Fairmont’s girls have failed to win a game since losing top scorer and rebounder Kiara Page to injury. The Fairmont boys won by “only” 18 points, 78-60 at South Robeson.
St. Pauls’ girls led Red Springs 20-11 at halftime. The Red Devils halftime talk must have been effective as it outscored the Bulldogs 29-8 in the second half for a 40-28 win. The loss dropped St. Pauls into with place in the final regular season standings. The Red Springs Boys bounced back from two close losses to West Columbus earlier in the week to top St. Pauls 66-59.
West defeated East 88-85 in a battle of Bladen County boys teams. The Knights’ win broke a tie with the Eagles for ninth place. East Bladen’s girls continued to roll with a 68-36 win.
Saturday’s Three Rivers Conference tournament opening round match ups were clear cut after Friday’s action since no ties existed in seventh through tenth place.
Girls: South Robeson @ Fairmont, 2 pm
Girls: South Columbus @ West Bladen, 2 pm
Boys: West Bladen @ East Columbus, 2 pm
Boys: East Bladen @ South Robeson, 3 pm