Most Valuable Player, Boys
Juwan Addison, Fairmont and Glenn Patterson Jr., Red Springs — Both junior point guards are the key to their team’s success. If either is out for an extended period of time, the Golden Tornadoes and the Red Devils will struggle on the hardwood.
Most Valuable Player, Girls
Jensine Alvarez, Lumberton — Without Alvarez, Lumberton is a good basketball team. With the junior playmaker, the Pirates are a state championship contender and the county's best team. Alvarez leads the 12-2 Pirates in scoring, rebounding and assists. Coach Danny Graham says she can play all five positions and trusts her with the ball in her hands.
Most Surprising Team, Boys
Lumberton Pirates, 5-9 overall — The Pirates are consistent at being inconsistent despite having one of the top players in the region in Davonte Davis. With the return of Ted Gaskins to the bench, Lumberton was believed to have been in a better position than 5-9 overall and just 1-2 in conference. Gaskins says he is confident in his team and believes early-season losses to some of Cumberland County’s best will benefit the Pirates in close games.
Most Surprising Team, Girls
South Robeson, 9-5 overall — The Mustangs and star Nicorie Sinclair have faced a tough schedule through the early going and are still standing. South Robeson has held up, losing three of its five overall games to teams in the 4A conference. The rough stretch will benefit the Mustangs in the playoffs.
Geared For A Strong Finish, Boys
Fairmont Golden Tornadoes, 7-8 overall — The Golden Tornadoes have finally "learned how to finish" according to coach Richard Mitchell, an important component in Three Rivers games down the stretch. They also have one of the area’s top players in Juwan Addison.
Geared For A Strong Finish, Girls
St. Pauls, 8-6 overall — The Bulldogs are 2-1 in the Three Rivers and appear set to battle with South Robeson and East Columbus for the regular season crown. St. Pauls has key home games coming up agains both teams.
T1. Red Springs (8-8, 2-1 Three Rivers) and Fairmont (7-8, 1-2 TR). The Red Devils have faced some of the state's better teams and have come close to knocking off Trinity Christian and Quality Education Academy.
Red Springs key victories include knocking off Jack Britt and Fairmont in the Robeson County Shootout. The Golden Tornadoes advanced to the Robeson Shootout finals, but lost four straight after that.
2. South Robeson (6-8, 2-1 TR). The Mustangs are led by one of the best players in the region, Tyray Belin. However, South Robeson is looking for a consistent complimentary scorer to help Belin.
3. Lumberton (5-9, 1-2 Southeastern). Ted Gaskins' first season back at Lumberton hasn't been kind. The Pirates have played well in spurts and nearly pulled off upsets against Pine Foerest and Seventy-First.
4. St. Pauls (3-11, 0-3 TR). The lack of size and consistent outside shooters has handcuffed the Bulldogs this season.
5. Purnell Swett (2-12, 0-3 SEC). The first season for James Williams has been a regrettable one as the Rams have yet to win a conference game.
1. Lumberton (12-2, 3-0 Southeastern). The Pirates, led by Jensine Alvarez, have been the best team in the county since the beginning of the season.
Brandi McKinney and Leandra Oxendine give Lumberton reliable 3-point shooting threats and veterans at the guard position.
2. South Robeson (9-5, 2-1 Three Rivers). The Mustangs have one of the county’s most prolific offensive threats in Nicorie Sinclair, but a limited number of outside shooters makes South Robeson a wild-card favorite.
3. St. Pauls (8-6, 2-1 TR). The Bulldogs may have the county’s fastest backcourt and are 2-1 in conference competition.
4. Red Springs (7-8 1-2 TR). Point guard Camri Leach has picked up the pieces since the departure of Eva Patterson-Heath and has the Red Devils right in the thick of things in the Three Rivers conference.
5. Purnell Swett (5-9, 0-3 SEC). Lella Kenworthy and Laura Bird give the Rams a formidable front line that is comparible to the area’s top rebounders and shot blockers.
6. Fairmont (1-14, 1-2 TR). The Golden Tornadoes have struggled through 15 games, but do have one win in league play.
GAMES TO WATCH
Jan. 29 Fairmont at South Robeson (Boys). Arguably South Robeson's most important home contest remaining of the season. The Golden Tornadoes will be trying to erase a conference-opening setback to the Mustangs.
Feb. 5 Richmond at Lumberton (Girls). The only team to give the Pirates problems thus far in the SEC, Richmond travels to Lumberton in this key conference game.
Feb. 5 Fairmont at Red Springs (Boys). The deciding contest in a season series between the two teams knotted at one-all.
Feb. 9 South Robeson at Red Springs (Boys). Tyray Belin's final trip to Red Springs in his career may decide the Three Rivers regular season title.
Feb. 12 Purnell Swett at Lumberton (Girls). Robeson County's own version of Tobcacco Road takes center stage in the Pirates' quest for an unbeaten Southeastern record.