It is always best when a team holds its playoff destiny in its own hands. The Whiteville and East Columbus Girls squads accomplished that Tuesday evening with road victories. West Columbus will still have a say in the 1A Girls, but its loss to Red Springs puts a damper on the Vikings playoff chances.
Whiteville’s girls downed St. Pauls 42-34 at St. Pauls. The Wolfpack and Bulldogs entered the contest tied for third in the TRC. St. Pauls defeated the Wolfpack earlier this season and a victory would have given St. Pauls the tiebreaker if needed. St. Pauls downed the Wolfpack Boys 67-38. Jatiek Martin scored 10 points for Whiteville. St. Pauls Boys likely have a playoff berth secured. Unless Whiteville wins the conference tourney, the Wolfpack will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
East Columbus pounded Fairmont 65-30. The Golden Tornadoes have struggled since losing center Kiara Page to injury. Fairmont has lost four consecutive games. With the win, East Columbus takes a one-half game lead over West Columbus for what likely will be the only 1A TRC playoff berth. The East Columbus Boys three-game winning streak came to a screeching halt with a 73-33 loss to Fairmont. In the Gators defense, Fairmont has defeated its 11 opponents in 2018 by an average score of 76-47.
Red Springs’ girls handed West Columbus a damaging, home loss 43-34. Free throw shooting paced the Viking Boys to a 68-61 victory. West Columbus was 25-32 at the charity stripe. Zach McPherson connect on six of six free throws in the final 45 seconds. Jake Brownlee contributed 28 points that included 11of 12 successful free throws. Brownlee also gathered in 16 rebounds. West Columbus travels to Red Springs tonight (Wednesday) for a make up game from January 3. A win by the Viking Girls would make Friday night’s game with East Columbus a “winner-take-all” for the lone automatic playoff berth. A win by the WC Boys would guarantee a second place conference finish.
If the East Columbus and West Columbus girls end the season tied, a playoff game would be needed to determine the automatic playoff berth unless the Vikings and Gators meet in the conference tournament or one of the teams advances to the conference tournament finals.
West Bladen’s boys probably snuffed out any South Columbus playoff hopes with a 56-52 win at South Columbus. Zack MCoy scored 14 points for the Stallions. To further put a damper on Senior Night, the Knights girls team defeated the Stallions 43-30. It is likely these two will meet Saturday at West Bladen in a conference tournament play-in game.
South Robeson’s boys kept alive their chance of avoiding the Saturday play-in game with a 77-65 win over East Bladen. It is unlikely the Mustangs will upset Fairmont Friday night, but South Robeson can still tie Whiteville for sixth and seventh places if the Wolfpack fall to South Columbus. With Whiteville and South Robeson splitting the two TRC games, the tie-breaking procedure would favor South Robeson due to its win over West Columbus. East Bladen dropped South Robeson 79-51. The Eagles had five players in double figures led by Erica McKoy with 17 points. Patience Ward contributed a double-double with 16 points and a dozen rebounds. Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson returned to the court after a two-game absence with 10 points.