“Two birds with one stone” or more to the point, two celebrations with one win could describe the euphoria in Cerro Gordo after the West Columbus boys defeated arch-rival Whiteville 58-55. For Viking fans, the Whiteville game is not just another game. A win is a reason for celebration. Add to that, with Fairmont’s 69-48 win over Red Springs, West Columbus is now alone in first place in the TRC Boys standings.
Jake Brownlee led the Vikings statistics as usual with 21 points and 17 rebounds. However, Zach McPherson was the X-factor for the Vikings with 13 points, including a key 3-pointer with under 20 seconds left to give the Vikings the lead. McPherson was also five for five from the free throw line. The Vikings made 22 of 35 charity tosses (62.9%), with Brownlee connecting on 13 of 18. West had struggled to reach 50% in several of its previous games. Deontay Bromell added 10 points and seven rebounds.
The contest was tied 31-all at halftime and 40-each after three quarters. The Wolfpack backcourt of Phillip Powell, Cameron Smith and Bradley Pridgen scored a dozen points each.
The Viking Girls joined in the celebration with a 41-33 win over Whiteville. West Columbus outscored the Wolfpack 26-10 in the second half. Annela Tiffany scored 17 points and Tah’nijah McKoy contributed 16 for West.
Joy followed by sadness at Vinegar Hill Tuesday evening. South Columbus coach Megan Whitesell’s girls squad earned its first win of the season, 48-38, over South Robeson game. Caila Turbeville scored 20 points to lead the Stallion girls. South Columbus built a substantial first half lead that South Robeson never made much of a dent in during the remainder of the contest.
Fouls, both committing and making free throws after, doomed the Stallion boys in a 69-66 overtime loss to the Mustangs. The Stallions were 9 of 21 shooting treys, but just 7 of 19 on free throws. South starters Shiquan Conyers, Trequawn Johnson and Zack McKoy all were on the bench with five fouls at the end of the contest. Johnson scored 16 points for South. McKoy scored nine points and pulled down 16 rebounds. Tre Bellamy contributed 14 points.
East Columbus traveled West to meet East Bladen. The Gator girls and boys both held leads in the fourth quarter ,but were unable to close the deal. The East Columbus girls led 35-34 early in the fourth quarter before falling 49-42. Tia Campbell led EC with 17 points.
The Gator boys held a five-point advantage 38-33 a minute and 30 seconds into the fourth quarter. East Columbus would not score again for 2:45 when Donavan Worley’s free throws regained the lead for EC at 40-39. The Eagles’ Messiah Leach connected on a three-point shot with 45 seconds left to swing the advantage to East Bladen 42-40. Damarkus Brown connected on a free throw with 10 seconds left to cut the lead to 42-41. Brown’s second attempt was disallowed due to a lane violation. The Gators had to foul three times in order to put East Bladen in a shooting situation. the Eagles free throw with three seconds remaining was off the mark, but the horn went off as East Bladen ran down the rebound. Donavan Worley and Graylan Daniels had nine points each to top the Gator scoring.
The biggest games of the evening, from a TRC standpoint, took place in Robeson County as Fairmont hosted Red Springs. Fairmont’s boys dominated from the start, handing Red Springs its first conference defeat 69-48. In the girls game Kiara Page scored 37 points, helping Fairmont to a 69-55 win over Red Springs. Paige achieved a triple-double with 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The loss was also the Red Springs girls first TRC defeat. Taya Jones scored 24 points for Red Springs despite facing a double-team most of the game.
St. Pauls kept West Bladen winless in both girls and boys conference play with 43-40 and 65-50 wins respectively.