It wasn’t quite the same disappointment following the first night of the state football playoffs, but it was close.
The Southeastern Conference placed eight basketball teams in the postseason and following Monday’s opening round, only three survived, two on the boys side and one in the girls bracket. The league had five of its six teams lose on the first night of the football playoffs, only eventual 4A champion Scotland survived the opening weekend.
The Richmond boys pulled out a thriller in overtime on the road at Butler. The Raiders trailed for the majority of the contest before putting the Bulldogs away in the extra period.
Shydamion Ellerbe continues to show he could be the best player in the area no one has heard of, after scoring a career-high 31 points. And from what his teammates were saying at Tuesday’s practice, Ellerbe added another highlight dunk to his ever growing reel.
The win, coupled with Sun Valley’s stunning loss at home to High Point Central, gave Richmond one more home game this season. Sun Valley was the only No. 1 seed in any classification to fall in the opening round Monday. The Raiders will take on the Bison today at 7 p.m.
While the boys were moving into the second round, the Richmond girls stumbled big time at home against North Davidson. The No. 11 seed in the Midwest pod, the Black Knights jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter and never backed down even after the Raiders rallied to take a brief lead in the third. North Davidson kept its cool and pulled away for the first-round upset.
That result was typical for the majority of the SEC teams.
Both of Lumberton’s teams fell Monday night. The boys, the No. 7 seed in the Mideast pod, squandered an 18-point lead before falling to South View by four at home. The Lumberton girls didn’t fare much better, falling on the road at Holly Springs, 54-43.
Like their county rival, the Purnell Swett boys and girls were eliminated in the opening round. The Purnell Swett boys committed 14 turnovers in the first quarter and were unable to recover in a 65-54 loss at Hillside. The dynamic duo of Laura Bird and Kayla Lewis were limited to a combined 12 points in Purnell Swett’s 71-48 defeat at Seventy-First.
The SEC’s lone bright spots, besides Richmond’s OT win at Butler, were from its conference champions.
Hoke County, the league’s boys regular season and tournament champion, earned the No. 2 seed in the Mideast pod and dodged a major upset with a 72-63 win over Holly Springs. Tarique Thompson, the odds-on favorite to win SEC player of the year honors, scored 28 points to keep the Bucks’ season alive.
Hoke advances to play host to Seventy-First at 7 p.m. today. The schools met twice this season, with the Bucks escaping with two-point victories each time.
The league’s girls champion, Scotland, opened its postseason with a 62-58 victory over E.E. Smith and will battle Holly Springs tonight at 7 at home.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org