First Posted: 1/15/2009
Red Springs advances to championship
PEMBROKE - Things are different these days in the Fairmont-Red Springs girls’ basketball rivalry. Just ask the Golden Tornadoes.
A year ago, all-state guard Monique Floyd helped Fairmont take two of three meetings with the Red Devils. One of those victories came in the finals of the 2006 Robeson County Shootout.
Now without Floyd, who is a starter at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Fairmont found it harder to compete with Red Springs. A lot harder.
The Red Devils easily dispatched the Golden Tornadoes with a 62-21 victory on Thursday in the semifinals of the Robeson County Shootout. The win gives Red Springs its third consecutive trip to the tournament’s finals.
“I definitely want to win one of these,” said Red Devils coach Eva Patterson-Heath, whose team has lost in the championship game the last three years. “That’s why we go out there and compete. It’s why they keep score.”
For the second straight night, Red Springs’ defense limited its opponent’s scoring opportunities. Fairmont struggled for points against the Red Devils much the same way opening-round opponent Purnell Swett had on Wednesday.
A strong defensive effort was even more imperative against Fairmont, however. Golden Tornadoes guard Shaniah Powell was coming off a 35-point performance in a victory over St. Pauls. And Patterson-Heath knew that the senior couldn’t have another night like that if Red Springs was going to advance.
“I kind of believe that as she goes, they’re going to go,” the coach said. “She’s a phenomenal player.”
The Red Devils held Powell to 13 points, but they didn’t stop with keying on Fairmont’s top scorer - Red Springs stymied just about everything the Golden Tornadoes tried to do offensively.
Fairmont, 3-5, managed to make just three field goals and score a total of eight points in the first half. Trailing by 24 points at halftime, the Golden Tornadoes appeared to find a bit of momentum offensively when the third quarter began. Powell scored seven of Fairmont’s first nine points in the period, helping her team cut its deficit 36-17.
But a 3-pointer by the senior with just under five minutes left in the quarter would be the last points Fairmont would score over the next 12 minutes.
Red Springs, which had frustrated Fairmont with its trapping and zone defenses, threw in a new wrinkle. The Red Devils employed a box-and-one - a zone defense with one player matched up one-on-one with the other team’s best scorer. Corletha Bartley drew the assignment of guarding Powell, and the strategy worked.
The senior wouldn’t score again until she hit a pair of free throws with only 41 seconds left to play in the game. Red Springs had ripped off 26 unanswered points up to that point.
“We went to the box-and-one because she looked like she was starting to get a rhythm, and we couldn’t allow that,” Patterson-Heath said.
Red Devils guard Courtney Bowers led all scorers with 19 points. Teammate Amanda Sinclair added 13 points.
Red Springs will face Hoke County tonight at Purnell Swett in the Shootout championship game. Tip-off is 6:30 p.m.