O’Neil helps Pirates sail to playoff win

By: By Rodd Baxley - Sports editor

LUMBERTON — When it comes to the Lumberton girls basketball team, London Thompson and Madison Canady do the bulk of the steering for the Lady Pirates.

The dynamic duo continued that trend in Lumberton’s 66-34 win over Seventy-First on Tuesday by combining for 36 points.

But that didn’t stop Rachel O’Neil from doing her part to help the Lady Pirates sail to another NCHSAA 4-A playoff victory.

“It was important for us to play together and get the win,” said O’Neil, who finished with 11 points.

“Madi and London can’t carry us all of the time. Everyone has to pitch in and contribute to the team.”

With a pair of 3-pointers, a slew of steals and plenty of energy on both ends of the floor, O’Neil provided a much-needed boost for the 12th-seeded Lady Pirates (24-4), who claimed their third win of the season against Sandhills Athletic Conference foe Seventy-First (16-11).

As a sophomore, O’Neil scored a total of three points in three playoff games last season. She matched that in the first period of Tuesday’s game.

Lumberton coach Danny Graham said it was “real big” to have the now-junior guard and others contribute on a night where everything seemed to be clicking for the Lady Pirates.

“All of the pressure is usually on London and Madi,” Graham said. “When Zy (Cade), Rachel, Alexandria (Simpson) and Destiny (Hardin) can step up, it’s huge. Great team win. Our transition game was really good. Our defense was good. Everyone contributed.”

Thompson, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for her fourth double-double in her last five playoff games, was pleased to see O’Neil ripping the net from the perimeter and scoring easy baskets in transition.

“We really needed that,” the senior guard said. “From now on, teams are going to try to hold me and Madi. We need people to step up and help.”

Canady continued to patrol the interior for the Lady Pirates with a double-double of her own. The junior forward finished with 18 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Lumberton used a 24-point explosion in the first quarter to carry a 37-18 lead into halftime.

Thompson scored eight points during the opening flurry and Cade knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to quickly put the Lady Falcons on the ropes.

“We’re a fast-starting team,” Thompson said. “We feel like if we get up fast, we can just cruise the rest of the way.”

And that’s what Lumberton did throughout the final three quarters. The Lady Pirates watched their lead swell to 38 points in the fourth quarter after a nifty spinning jumper by Simpson with just under three minutes left to play.

The win earns them a date with fifth-seeded Holly Springs — which received a first-round bye — on Thursday.

“In the second round we go to (Holly Springs) so it won’t be easy,” Graham said.

“But it gives us a good opportunity. I feel good about us going up there. We just have to be ready to play. In the playoffs, it’s about getting better and better each game.”



Canady, Thompson lead Lumberton to 66-34 victory

By Rodd Baxley

Sports editor

Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.

Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.