PEMBROKE — It was a lesson that Corry Addison learned from his father at a young age that has stuck with him for the last 13 years he’s been playing basketball.
“My dad put a lot of pressure on me. He told me ever since I was 4 years old when I picked up a ball to never step down to nobody,” the Fairmont guard said. “I just had to step up to the plate tonight and take on all the pressure on my shoulders.”
Fairmont, much like its senior leader, did not back down in the bright lights of the boys Robeson County Shootout championship on Saturday at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke to Lumberton.
In front of a nearly full house at the English Jones Center, Addison did what he had been doing in front of Fairmont’s following already this season, and led the Golden Tornadoes to a historic feat — a third straight Shootout title in a row and a record seventh tournament title — in a 77-59 win.
Being a part of the tournament for several years as a player and a coach, the record-setting feat is something Fairmont coach Montrell McNair has trouble wrapping his mind around.
“It’s special and it hadn’t been done before,” he said. “Coach (Michael) Baker’s taught me a lot and I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Addison did not have the cloud of foul trouble over his head in the game, like he has had at times this season that has led him to be cautious defensively. With the worries of fouls absent, Addison’s game flourished. He finished the championship contest by stuffing the stat sheet with 18 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, five steals and two blocks to pick up MVP honors for the Shootout.
“It just lifts everything off my shoulders and play a better game all around,” Addison said of not playing in foul trouble. “I could gamble more on defense when I don’t have that.
“I feel like this is my breakout year and I want to get my name out there.”
Fairmont (9-1) and Lumberton (6-7) battled through a first half where both teams grabbed significant leads before the other responded. The Pirates took as much as an eight-point lead in the first quarter before Fairmont senior guard Derrick Arnette collected his seven first-quarter points to give the Golden Tornadoes a 17-16 after the end of the period.
Then Fairmont built a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter at 30-20, and the Pirates led by junior forward Braylan Grice chipped away at the lead. After going four minutes without a field goal in the second quarter after going up 10 points, the Golden Tornadoes’ lead shrunk to 35-33, before taking a 37-33 advantage into halftime.
Grice led all scorers with 17 points in the first half, with 11 coming in the second quarter as Lumberton kept up with Fairmont that stretched its lead out to 10 at one point. One of Lumberton’s two representatives on the all-tournament team, Grice had 19 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks in the game.
After a close and competitive first half, the second half was taken over by Fairmont’s guard play and depth. The four-point halftime cushion swelled in the third quarter thanks to the scoring of Addison, Arnette and Brent McDonald. To go along with the 18 points from the MVP, Arnette had a game-high 26 points and McDonald had 14 points to earn both all-tournament team honors. The trio scored all but six points in the third that helped put space between the two teams to secure the championship, with Addison leading the way in that quarter with seven points.
“He wanted it. He showed the defensive and the offensive effort,” McNair said of Addison. “He became a leader in this tournament. I think he understands what he needs to do to lead this team further going forward.”
As a team, Lumberton went 1-for-12 from behind the arc, with Jordan McNeill’s 3-pointer with 4:41 left in the fourth quarter as the only shot to fall from distance. Lumberton coach Matt Hill said the large amount of attempts even though shots weren’t falling was his team’s way of trying to ignite a run while down.
“I think we got frustrated and we needed a momentum booster, a pick-me-up,” Hill said. “The kids never quit, they kept fighting and we ran out of gas. Those guys play 13 deep and they don’t lose much when they go to the bench.”
Lumberton senior guard Steph Lloyd averaged 26 points per game in the tournament through the first two contests of the Shootout, but was held well under the average with 10 points and six assists against the Golden Tornadoes. Drawing the defensive assignment of guarding the Pirates’ floor general for some of the night was Addison, along with Arnette, and he said the way the duo slowed down Lloyd was to frustrate him.
“We just made him slow it down and we felt like he doesn’t really play good when he slows it down,” Addison said.
Lloyd was the Pirates’ other nomination to the all-tournament team and Hill credited the Fairmont backcourt for what it did to slow down Lumberton’s hottest scorer in the tournament coming into the championship.
“They play really good defense. They don’t give you much space and they play up in you,” Hill said. “They want you to get out of the pace of your game and force you to play their game.”
McNeill logged 19 points and 11 rebounds for Lumberton.
After taking time off for Christmas, the third and final meeting of the season between the teams comes on Friday when Fairmont travels to Lumberton.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.