PEMBROKE — Tristan Locklear walked into the English Jones Center at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke on Friday ready to take on another day of work as an aide for the facility’s manager, Tony Chavis. He walked out with a gold medal around his neck.
Locklear made an unanticipated appearance in the Lumbee Games 3-on-3 basketball tournament, teaming up with Josh Moore, Joshua Jacobs and Austin Hunt to take first place in the 19-and-over division.
“I woke up and didn’t think I was going to play this morning,” Locklear said. “I was in here working and the guys came and asked if I wanted to play. I enjoyed it.”
Locklear said the format of the tournament was different than what he is used to.
“You only go to 10. Usually when we play we go to about 16, so that’s kind of a challenge,” Locklear said. “If you have a good shooter, all it takes is a couple shots from the 3-point line and it’s game, so it’s a little challenging.”
The trio held its own against teams that included athletes who played basketball or other sports in high school. For many of those players, opportunities to play competitively have grown scarce due to other obligations.
Bradley Hunt, whose team won the bronze medal in the same division, said he enjoys playing basketball but doesn’t play competitively often because of his work schedule.
“This is my first time, and I enjoyed the competition,” Hunt said. “It was something good to do. I liked it.”
Hunt said he was “playing just to play” and earning a medal was a bonus.
“We could have executed better, but we played how we should. We’re just out of shape.”
The team of Jadarius Chapman, Chandler McNeil, Nolan McNeil and Charlie Miller won the championship in the 15-year-old division.
In the division for 13 and 14-year-olds, the team of Dylan Deese, Dylan Locklear and Malakai Page took home top honors.
Page, a rising ninth grader who plans on playing basketball at Purnell Swett, said it was his first time participating in the Lumbee games.
“I got to see some good basketball players and got to meet (UNCP basketball) Coach (Ben) Miller,” Page said.
The 14-year-old said he was feeling confident about his skills in the post, and he’s continuing to work on his free throw shooting as he prepares to play with the Rams.
The basketball tournament was the last of four events that took place during the Lumbee games. Many of the basketball players said they plan on returning next year.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.