LUMBERTON — While history could be made for the second time in the Robeson County Shootout if the Lumberton girls basketball team makes the tournament’s championship game, the rest of the field is looking to make history of their own.
Lumberton owns the tournament record for most titles, with eight, and most title appearances, with 12, and has made the last three title games. Other than Dillon, who has won three of the last four titles, the rest of the teams in this year’s field haven’t won a title since Fairmont in 2006.
In the 11 years since, Red Springs and St. Pauls have finished runner-up twice and Purnell Swett came up short once. Red Springs has came up short in 10 of its 12 appearances in the title game, most recently last year in the championship to Lumberton, 72-47.
Teams like Red Springs and Fairmont have a chance to snap the streak of Dillon and Lumberton’s dominance in recent years, as they both sport winning records coming into the tournament.
“In the last two years we’ve had to play them at Lumberton, and this year if we make it we are at a neutral site and that helps because Lumberton is a tough place to play,” Red Springs coach Steve Sinclair said. “We’re still figuring some things out and we are playing a little better and we are riding a little streak right now. I’m hoping we can figure them things out by the end of the Shootout so we can move onto conference.”
Fairmont finished runner-up in the first Shootout tournament in 1993, and had its lone win came 13 years later. Now the Lady Golden Tornadoes feel the 25th anniversary of the tournament is their time.
“I feel like this year we have everything in place and we’ve got to carry through and I can’t do it for them, they have to do it,” Fairmont coach Richard Mitchell said. “I think they want to do it now.
“People come to our games now, and they don’t come just to see the boys.”
Here are some other storylines to keep an eye on during the Shootout:
MOSES LEADS ST. PAULS’ TURNAROUND
The biggest turnaround from last year for any team in the tournament comes from St. Pauls, led by first-year coach Mike Moses. With a young roster, Moses has had his team buy in to double its win total from last year already heading into the Christmas break. The Lady Bulldogs sit in the middle of the pack of the Three Rivers Conference and look to make it to the final day of the Shootout for the first time since the 2012 edition.
POSSIBLE POWER MATCHUPS
While no team is looking past their first-round opponents in the 25th annual girls Robeson County Shootout, the possible semifinal matchups could feature a pair of games among teams that have a lot of history against each other. A meeting between Lumberton and Dillon on the top of the bracket would be the fifth season in a row. Fairmont and Red Springs could collide on the bottom side of the bracket in a meeting of two top teams in the Three Rivers Conference.
THREE POY CANDIDATES LOOK FOR TITLE
Lumberton’s London Thompson, Red Springs’ Taya Jones and Fairmont’s Kiara Page lace up for the Shootout for the final time of their decorated careers and each have shown glimpses this year that they could be Robeson County Player of the Year when the season is over. Thompson is the only one of the trio to win a title, but Jones and Page both lead experienced teams into the tourney looking to hoist the trophy for the first time in over a decade for Fairmont and 15 years for the Lady Red Devils.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.