LUMBERTON — Lumberton boys basketball coach Matt Hill had a simple explanation for the Pirates’ offensive explosion in the final period of a 71-48 blowout win over Dillon on Friday night in the semifinals of the Robeson County Shootout.
“The ball decided to start falling in the hole,” said Hill, whose team outscored the Wildcats 27-5 in the fourth quarter to secure a spot in tonight’s Shootout championship game.
“Our defense really picked up, which led to transition offense. The kids never quit. We had guys come off the bench that played big.”
The Pirates (6-6) also had Steph Lloyd, who logged a game-high 24 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three assists. After tallying 28 points against South Robeson on Wednesday, Lloyd stayed hot against the Wildcats (2-1).
The only difference on Friday? Lloyd decided to rock a headband.
“His pull-up game has been ridiculous. … he’s been playing with good confidence,” Hill said of his senior point guard.
“Defensively, he had some good blocks that saved us from giving up transition buckets. We just kept attacking the basket, even when it didn’t go in. Jordan (McNeill) was strong earlier in the season. I think he’s really starting to pick up some of the better defenders. But (other teams) can’t sleep on Steph because Steph can score.”
Braylan Grice tallied 15 points and four blocks, McNeill added 12 points and Kwashek Breeden logged 10 for the Pirates, who will face Fairmont at 8 p.m. tonight at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in a rematch of last year’s championship game.
“It was an all-around team effort and probably the best I think we’ve played as a group,” Hill said. “Everybody was in the game focused, cheering on everybody. They really wanted to make it back to that championship game again.”
The Pirates entered the fourth quarter with a 44-43 lead, courtesy of a Lloyd layup. They never trailed again.
Frustrated throughout the final period, Dillon was whistled for two technical fouls and one flagrant foul down the stretch, allowing the Pirates the opportunity to widen the margin.
Ty’Quan Porter scored 22 points to lead the Wildcats, but didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
“Jordan stepped up for us tonight as far as wanting to guard the post and face-guarding (Ty’Quan Porter),” Hill said. “That’s probably the best defensive showing I’ve seen Jordan have all year.”
Josh Britt and Jadarion Chapman sent Lumberton’s “Maroon Typhoon” student section into a frenzy by ending the game with back-to-back 3-pointers for the final tally.
Lloyd netted a floater in the final minute of the first half to cap a 9-0 spurt for Lumberton, which carried a 28-26 lead into the break.
Now, like the Golden Tornadoes, the Pirates will have a chance to become the first boys program to claim seven Shootout titles.
And Hill will be coaching in the championship game for the third straight year, looking to avoid an 0-3 mark.
“I sure hope the third time’s the charm,” he said. “I don’t want to make it about me because I know the guys really want it bad.”
Balanced Lady Pirates cruise past Dillon
Behind a strong first half by Rachel O’Neil, the Lumberton girls basketball team cruised into the championship game of the Robeson County Shootout with a 60-48 win over Dillon on Friday.
O’Neil scored 11 of her 13 points in the first half, knocking down a trio of 3-pointers to spark a 16-5 run in the second quarter for the Lady Pirates, who led 39-25 at the break and never looked back.
“We played well in the first half. In the second half, I thought we played well in spurts. I think we rebounded very well,” said Lumberton coach Danny Graham.
“I was real proud of our effort. Any win is a good win. We just have to keep plugging along.”
London Thompson and Madison Canady scored 14 points each to lead Lumberton (10-2), which will play Red Springs in the title game at 6 p.m. at UNCP.
Thompson grabbed 11 rebounds to notch a double-double. She also had six assists and eight steals. Canady pulled down eight rebounds and finished with five steals.
Destiny Hardin added 11 points for the Lady Pirates, who look to earn a second consecutive Shootout title and their ninth overall title as a program.
“We just have to keep getting better,” Graham said. “Look forward to the championship game (Saturday) and we’ll see what happens. I was real proud of the team effort. It’s always hard to play against Dillon.”
And the pregame message for his team on Saturday?
“Just go out and play the way we’re capable of playing,” he said.