FAIRMONT — The further a team advances in a tournament, the tougher the opponent generally is in the next round.
This is especially true for the Richmond Senior boys team in this week’s Robeson County Shootout.
After blitzing St. Pauls 83-44 in the opening round, the Raiders will have to travel to Fairmont tonight to take on the Golden Tornadoes. Like Richmond, Fairmont cruised into the semifinals, blasting its in-county rival Red Springs 99-59. The Raiders and the Golden Tornadoes are both 5-1 on the season and riding five-game winning streaks.
The winner of tonight’s clash will take on the victor of the Dillon-Lumberton contest in the championship game 8 p.m. Saturday at the English E. Jones Center on the UNC Pembroke campus. The loser will play in the third-place contest at 4 p.m.
Despite being a 2A school, Fairmont is no stranger to facing 4A opponents. This year it has played Lumberton twice. The Pirates won the opener 64-63 and the Golden Tornadoes breezed to a 70-50 victory in the rematch.
Last year, Fairmont squared off with Lumberton two times, faced Purnell Swett in the Robeson County Shootout and battled Southeastern Conference champion Hoke County twice. The Golden Tornadoes swept their in-county foes, but lost both games with the Bucks by an average of 17.5 points per game. Despite falling to East Columbus in the Three Rivers Conference tournament title tilt at home, Fairmont advanced to the East Region final, losing to Kinston by 27.
The loss to the Gators was the last time the Golden Tornadoes walked off their home court in defeat. Over the last two seasons, they are 18-3 at home and have won their last seven games. The team’s margin of victory at home is an eye-popping 28.4 points a game.
Before the Raiders and Golden Tornadoes square off tonight there will be another semifinal game to be played. The Richmond girls will hit the court to take on Red Springs.
The Raiders are 4-1 and have captured their last three games by an average of 37.3 points. Richmond blasted St. Pauls 63-31 in the opening round of the Robeson County Shootout. Red Springs has gotten off to a 2-6 start this season and edged Fairmont 41-39 in its opener to advance in the Shootout.
The winner will play in the championship contest against either Lumberton or Dillon 6 p.m. Saturday. The loser will compete in the third-place game at 2 p.m.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.