LUMBERTON — All Lumberton junior guard August Smith said she needed heading into this season was confidence, and when that came, she went from a role player to a leading scorer for the Pirates during the 2019-20 basketball season.
“I think I regained my confidence a lot this year. This offseason was definitely a building offseason. I did a lot of work, I got a lot of shots up with coach (Sam Davis),” Smith said. “I had a lot of experience and I had a lot I wanted to prove this year.”
Smith saw improvements in her scoring, assists and steals during her junior season, and because of her development from previous seasons to now, as well as finding her mark shooting the ball over the last half of the season, she earned Robeson County Most Improved Player honors on the girls side.
“She did a great job this year compared to where she was at last year. She was one of my leaders,” Davis said. “She was more confident in putting the ball on the floor, she had more confidence in shooting the ball and that’s what we had been telling her for the last two years that she was a shooter.”
The biggest change for Smith came when she had to accept a bigger role with the team when senior guard Zye’ahna Cade left the team. Smith was tasked with more of a ball-handling role than before, but also had to pick up the scoring load left from the athletic senior leader.
“I knew it was my turn to take some of the load off. Akwarius (Stubbs) stepped up a lot and (Lakiya Hunt) moving up (from JV) helped us a lot with the ball-handling, but I knew I had to help them out too,” Smith said. “I knew I had to get better so I came in before practice and worked with coach, and little stuff like that trying to get better.”
Smith averaged 8.8 points per game, as well as averaging nearly two assists and three steals a game. She scored in double figures in seven of her final eight games.
During that stretch, she was the team’s leading 3-point shooting threat, something that her team had faith in, even when shots weren’t falling as frequently early on.
“We give her the green light to do it and now I feel like she’s built the confidence up from doing that,” Davis said. “I hope she continues going into her senior year doing that for us.”
One goal for her, on top of helping the team rebound from an 11-14 record this season, is breaking the school’s record of 3-pointers in a game which is nine. She had six in a game in final game of the season at Purnell Swett.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.