FAIRMONT — Fairmont missed so many open shots in the first half, coach Michael Baker was getting frustrated.
After a quick pep talk from its coach, the Golden Tornadoes found the range in the second half and blistered Richmond 74-55 Friday night to advance to the Robeson County Shootout championship game.
“We missed easy shots in the first quarter,” Baker said. “We missed point-blank shots, putbacks and layups. It was like we were anticipating them blocking the shot and not focusing on watching the ball through the basket. I told them to keep the eye on the ball until the ball went through.”
Both teams struggled to find the range in the first quarter, combining for 22 points, but hit the ground running in the second. The Golden Tornadoes scored 22 points in the frame and the Raiders netted 17. After connecting on the game’s first basket, Fairmont didn’t take the lead again until KaShawn Leonard swished a 3-point field goal with 27 seconds remaining in the first half.
Richmond coach David Laton said his team was fortunate to trail by just three points at halftime because he held out two starters for being late for the team bus earlier in the afternoon. After sinking back into a 2-3 zone in the first 16 minutes, Laton thought a switch to a man-to-man with Xavier Davis and Tre Pettigrew back in the lineup in the second half would give the Raiders an advantage.
The plan backfired on Laton as Fairmont exploded in the second half to outscore Richmond 42-26.
“We were able to spread the ball out when they went to man,” Baker said. “Their length was bothering us in the zone, when they went to man it opened the floor for us.”
Baker added he made a defensive adjust as well as halftime that confused the Raiders.
“We kept switching from man to our 1 defense, which is a match up but with man-to-man principles,” Baker said. “They were hitting the 3 in the first half because we were helping out on the inside. We would run man a couple of times down the court then switch to our 1.”
Fairmont has won six straight since losing its season-opener at Lumberton and will face the Pirates again in today’s title contest 8 p.m. today at the English E. Jones Center on the UNC Pembroke campus.. Lumberton edged Dillon in the other semifinal game 85-82 in double overtime. The Raiders and the Wildcats will square off for third-place at 4 p.m.
Richmond girls rout Red Springs
FAIRMONT — Defense has been the hallmark for the Richmond Senior girls this season.
During its three-game winning streak the Raiders have limited their opponents to single-digit scoring in nine of the 12 quarters.
In its Robeson County Shootout semifinal matchup with Red Springs, Richmond was even better.
It held Red Springs to seven points or less in all four periods to breeze to a 61-24 victory Friday night at Fairmont High School.
“We played awesome defense tonight,” Richmond coach Victoria DeFrate said. “It really helped us on offense.”
Even as the Raiders were slowing down the Red Devils’ offensive attack, they needed to create points off their full-court pressure. Shaquail Wall sparked a 11-0 run midway through the first quarter as Richmond built a 12-point lead.
Things got worse for Red Springs in the second frame as its only points came on a 3-point field goal by Rocio Pecina at the 6:41 mark. Richmond was able to take advantage and extended its lead to 29-10 at halftime.
Red Springs coach Steven Sinclair said his choice in defense played a critical role in allowing Richmond to build its sizable lead. Sinclair added he was afraid of Richmond’s size on the inside, especially Jade Evans.
“We talked as coaches from switching to an extended 3-2 zone,” he said. “We were sitting back in our 2-3 zone and being very disciplined and not gambling, but we allowed them a lot of open shots. We played Terry Sanford and they have a girl that is 6-2 or 6-3 and they beat us with the lob. We didn’t want to get beat by the lob again.”
Despite being the focus of attention from the Red Springs defense, Evans scored all eight of her points in the first half. With the attention turned to Evans, Wall was able to rattle in two 3-pointers en route to scoring a game-high 14 points.
Richmond (5-1) has reeled off four straight wins and will face off with Dillon (S.C.) in the title game 6 p.m. today at the English E. Jones Center on the UNC Pembroke campus. Dillon knocked off Lumberton 47-36 to advance. Red Springs and Lumberton will square off at 2 p.m. in the third-place contest.
“We are excited to be in the championship,” DeFrate said. “We are more concerned about we we do than about what Dillon is going to do. If we do what we’re supposed to do, I think we will definitely be in the game.”
Richmond 61, Red Springs 24
Richmond 19 10 16 16 - 61
Red Springs 7 3 7 7 - 24
Richmond — Shaquail Wall 14, Kivana Keane 10, Evans 8, Griffin 7, Douglas 4, Everett 4, Everette 4, Ellerbe 3, McLaughlin 3, LeGrande 2, Maske 2.
Red Springs — Leach 6, Pecina 6, Norris 5, Powell 3, Snow 2, Brice 2.
Fairmont 74, Richmond 55
Richmond 12 17 6 20 - 55
Fairmont 10 22 16 26 - 74
Richmond — T.J. Watkins 10, Neely 9, G. Patterson 7, Jones 6, Bowden 5, Lindsey 5, O. Patterson 4, McLaughlin 4, X. Davis 3, Pettigrew 2.
Fairmont — Jarrod Neal 13, Dwayne Green 12, KaShawn Leonard 11, Alshaquan Williams 10, Barfield 7, McNair 6, Hines 4, Ransom 3, Powell 2, Watson 2, Flick 2, McQueen 2.