Execution Makes the Difference as Lake View defeats Fairmont

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LUMBERTON – After the Robeson County Shootout ran for December 34 in a row, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the county’s holiday basketball tradition last year.

So coaches, players and administrators were all the more excited when Robeson County Public Schools hosted the annual Shootout Luncheon on Thursday.

“COVID has taken so much of us over the past year and a half,” PSRC athletic director Jerome Hunt said over lunch. “It took our Shootout last year. But guess what, we’re back.

The 35th edition of the Shootout for the boys and the 28th for the girls will begin next week with first-round games played on Wednesday, followed by consolation games on Thursday and semi-finals on Friday; these rounds will all take place on campus. Saturday’s championship round takes place at the University of North Carolina at the E. Jones English Center in Pembroke.

Boys tournament

The Lumberton boys enter the Shootout as defending champions after winning the event the last time it was held in 2019. The Pirates will welcome first-time participant Heide Trask in the first round. Lumberton have reached the tournament final in four straight shootouts and seven of the last eight, and the Pirates are tied with Purnell Swett and Fairmont for most championships of all time.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Lumberton coach Bryant Edwards, who made his first shootout appearance in the Pirates’ 2019 win. “Two years ago, saw the kind of environment that it was, we are really looking forward to getting back to the championship game. I feel like the (half of the) bracket we’re in is pretty tough, but I think it’s going to help us improve our team.

Lumberton-Heide winner Trask will face the winner of Wednesday’s St. Pauls-Red Springs game, the only game in the county in the first round, hosted by the Bulldogs. St. Pauls will have the least playing experience this season among teams on the field, so the Bulldogs are looking forward to playing three games next week. The Bulldogs finished third in 2019.

“That’s the big key is that we can have a few games to play and to put to our credit,” said St. Pauls coach Corey Thompson. “But the most important thing is Josh (Henderson) last year, Jeyvian (Tatum) last year, Shaun (Emanuel) last year playing in the Robeson County Shootout, so we want to have a good performance and get ready for the conference when it starts in January, just build on what we can and keep moving forward.

Red Springs enters the Shootout in the first season of coach Glenn Patterson Jr., who competed in the event as a player and assistant coach in St. Pauls and Red Springs before replacing his father, who has trained 24 Shootouts. with the Red Devils. Patterson Jr. was the tournament MVP in Red Springs’ only tournament title in 2008.

“The Robeson County Christmas Shootout has always been something special for the county, and for me because I grew up around it, because my dad was the head coach, I was a manager, I got to play , I was successful and actually won the championship my junior year, “said Patterson Jr.” I have had some success as a player, now I hope I can taste it as a coach. We have a difficult path to get there.

On the other side of the board, Purnell Swett will host Whiteville in the first round. The Rams won the tournament in 2018 and have renewed energy on the pitch this season as they seek to recapture that magic. Whiteville is returning to the Shootout for the first time in several years after winning it in 2001 and 2004.

“I like this team; although we’ve struggled in the last two games, this team has an identity of being disjointed, ”said Purnell Swett coach Jeremy Sampson. “We don’t have a legitimate big guy, but we have a bunch of guys trying to buy and play hard, being disjointed. I hope that we can use this identity to transport us during these three days and surprise some people. “

Fairmont, which reached the championship game in 2019, hosts Lake View, who was eliminated after two rounds in 2019, in the first round. The Golden Tornadoes are looking for a spark after a 1-4 start.

“This will be the perfect time for our guys to start growing as a team and moving forward on what we need to work on, the rebound, getting a little more physical,” said Fairmont coach Montrell McNair. “We’ll see all types of teams showing us the things we need to work on. I think that will really help us and propel us into the conference.

Girls tournament

In the women’s tournament, St. Pauls is looking to repeat after her thrilling tournament title in 2019. The Bulldogs beat Purnell Swett in the championship game that year when TJ Eichelberger hit a buzzer float for the program’s first title. since 1998.

“We’re always motivated, because even though we come in as the defending champions I feel like we come in as an underdog because everyone in this county thinks Purnell Swett is better than us,” St. Pauls coach says Mike Moses. “It’s great for me as a coach to motivate the girls. I think we’re coming in as the underdogs, even though we’ve had the success we’ve had, which is unique.

Red Springs lost both of their shootout games in 2019; now second-year coach William Judd will coach his first shootout as the Red Devils hope to show some improvement over the struggles of the past few years.

“This is my first time and I am delighted to train in this atmosphere,” said Judd. “I know we’re going to face a behemoth in the first round, but it at least lets us see where we are, compared to where we were at this time last year. I’m very hopeful, because we’re playing so much better, we played really well last night (against Scotland). In two years we will play for the championship, mark my words.

Lumberton has won the Girls’ Shootout nine times, more than double that of any other school; the Pirates face Heide Trask in the first round after finishing sixth in 2019.

“It’s a tournament that any girl who grows up playing basketball in Robeson County looks forward to, growing up as a little girl,” said Lumberton coach Ivy Johnson, who was not in attendance for the lunch. , to Robesonian thereafter. “So these girls are really excited, eager to be there, looking to compete and looking to be successful, starting to bounce back and get things done in our favor.”

At the bottom of the range, Purnell Swett has first-year head coach Kalen Eddings, who played in the Shootout during his high school career with the Rams, and a team claiming to win the title; the Rams finished second behind St. Pauls in 2019. The entire Rams team is back after seven players missed the first two weeks of the season due to COVID-19 protocols. The Rams will face Whiteville, who won back-to-back titles in 2004-05, on Wednesday.

“I’m really ready to show the community what these girls can do,” Eddings said. “I think they have an idea of ​​what we have to come back, but our new style of play is going to get some people excited, and I’m just excited. I’m excited for the girls; they can’t wait to show off all the hard work they put in and they’ve had a bad taste in their mouth since the last game (in 2019).

The Fairmont girls enter the Shootout under unique circumstances as they take on Lake View, with just three active college players due to injury, illness and discipline. Coach Marcus Thompson is interested to see how his schedule handles the challenge, with JV players filling additional spots. Lake View defeated Fairmont in the third place game in 2019.

“I think that’s going to require them to push the JV players when we get in training today, to step up and prepare to play,” Fairmont coach Marcus Thompson said. “It’s the shooting; you cannot run away from it. Strangely, I like the chances of getting the first one, and then we’ll see what happens next.

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