ROCKINGHAM — Before the season started, nearly every Southeastern Conference boys basketball coach said the race for the title was going to be wide open.
This appears to be the case without any school seizing control through the nonconference schedule.
With the SEC season set to begin tonight, only Lumberton and Richmond Senior have winning records. The six conference schools are a combined 26-38 this year and are just 5-17 against 4A schools.
Lumberton is 7-6 on the season and claimed the Robeson County Shootout championship with a one-point come-from-behind victory over Fairmont. The majority of the Pirates’ wins have come against teams competing in lower classifications. They are 1-3 against 4A schools with the lone victory coming against Pine Forest 58-55.
Richmond has had its share of ups-and-downs this season, reeling off five straight wins, then dropping three in a row before rebounding to win its last three games. The Raiders are 8-4, but have yet to square off with a 4A team. Richmond finished fourth in the Robeson County Shootout and third in Pinecrest’s Holiday in the Pines tournament.
Despite sporting a 5-8 overall record, Hoke County could be the best prepared squad to make a run at the SEC title with its nonconference slate. The Bucks faced nine 4A teams and are 3-6 in those contests. They swept Jack Britt, spilt with South View, lost to E.E. Smith and Seventy-First twice and fell to High Point Central in the Sheetz Holiday Classic.
Pinecrest is 3-8 and has lost its last two games. The Patriots, like the Pirates, are 1-3 against 4A competition this season, Their lone victory came on the road against R.J. Reynolds 69-62.
Purnell Swett has lost both of its games with 4A opponents this season and is 2-6 overall, not including Thursday’s matchup with 1A West Columbus. Pine Forest routed Purnell Swett by 23 in the first meeting and 35 in the second.
Scotland has just one victory in seven games and is 0-3 against 4A schools, not including Thursday’s contest with Seventy-First. The Fighting Scots lost to the Falcons in their season opener and dropped eight-point decisions to both South View and Laney.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.