PEMBROKE — Dillon girls basketball coach Shawn Johnson was almost at a loss for words in trying to explain what his point guard means to his team.
The best description Johnson could come up with is “she’s a basketball player.”
Tyshanna Lester filled out her stat sheet pretty well to lead Dillon to a 59-39 victory over Richmond Senior in the championship game of the annual Robeson County Shootout. It was the first Shootout title for the Wildcats.
Lester finished the game with 24 points, 10 steals, six rebounds and two blocked shots and was the tournament’s MVP.
“She was the starting point guard on a Marion team that went to the state championship as an eighth-grader,” Johnson said. “She is the most experienced player we have and we look to her to lead us.”
Lester got the Wildcats (7-0) off to a strong start, scoring 11 of her team’s first 21 points. Dillon jumped out to a 19-point lead and held Richmond scoreless for more than eight minutes. Davina LeGrande had a steal and layup at the 6:12 mark of the first quarter for the Raiders. The team wouldn’t score again until Cherie Ellerbe drained a 3-point field goal with 5:58 left in the second frame.
Richmond coach Victoria DeFrate thought some of her team’s ball-handling problems from last year popped up again in the loss.
“I think a big part of it was intimidation,” DeFrate said. “It bothered us when we were trying to take care of the ball.”
The Raiders recovered from their slow start and trimmed the deficit to 12, but was unable to inch any closer as the Wildcats closed out the first half on a run to stretch the lead to 19 at halftime.
Johnson believes playing Lumberton in the semifinals was a good precursor to facing Richmond for the championship.
“It really prepared us,” he said. “It was a great atmosphere there and they held us to 47 points. Then again we held them to 36 so that prepared us. Not to take anything away from Richmond, but our guards overwhelmed them.”
Richmond had its four-game winning streak snapped to fall to 5-2 on the season. Shaquail Wall finished the game with a team-high 12 points and was named to the all-tournament team. Jade Evans joined Wall on the squad.
DeFrate said she and assistant coach Ted Gaskins may do some tinkering with their scheme during the break before returning to action 6 p.m. Jan. 3 against Anson at Raider Gymnasium.
“We are thinking about changing up the offense to take some pressure off the guards and open things up,” DeFrate said. “We need to take better care of the ball.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.