PEMBROKE — Lumberton girls basketball coach Danny Graham smiled as he looked down at the Robeson County Shootout championship trophy.
The Lady Pirates had just claimed their second consecutive title in the event and ninth overall championship with a 52-33 victory over Red Springs on Saturday at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
“It feels real good,” he said. “Any kind of championship is good. I owe all of the accolades to the girls.”
The plan was simple for Lumberton: Get standout point guard London Thompson involved early and build from that point.
“She is a very elite player and a great team player,” Graham said. “I want her to be aggressive and go after it. I want her to get started first and then get everyone else involved.”
Thompson had the same mindset, scoring 11 of her 12 points in the first half, including nine points in the opening period en route to earning MVP honors.
“I knew that if I started out fast, ready to get it, my girls would follow along,” Thompson said. “That’s what I expected.”
Using a 1-2-2 zone throughout the night, the Lady Pirates (11-2) held the Lady Devils (9-3) to single digits in each of the four periods to build a healthy margin.
“(The girls) adapted to what we put in — that 1-2-2 zone — and I thought that was maybe something that could help us,” Graham said.
“I thought our rebounding was great — (Madison) Canady, (Destiny) Hardin, (Alex) Simpson. That was probably the difference in the game. Our rebounding helped set up everything. Our (fast) break was good.”
Lumberton led by as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter when Zy Cade made a layup to give the Lady Pirates a 52-28 advantage with 2:10 left to play.
Cade, who was an all-tournament selection along with Canady, logged 11 points and Destiny Hardin added 14 points for Lumberton, which closed the half with a 10-4 run to take a 27-15 lead into the half.
Taya Jones scored 12 of her team-best 18 points in the second half to lead the Lady Devils (9-3). Taylynn Atkinson contributed 10 points.
For Thompson, it’s a “great start to my senior year.”
Now, she hopes to finish strong as conference play heats up.
“From this point on, I expect nothing but dubs,” she said.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.