Coaches excited to participate in Shootout
By Shawn Stinson
LUMBERTON — The most repeated phrase during the luncheon for this year’s 28th annual Robeson County Shootout was “We are honored to be part of it.”
Richmond Senior’s Victoria DeFrate and David Laton were among the handful of coaches to share that sentiment.
DeFrate and Laton will lead their squads into next week’s tournament with a record of .500 or better. The girls team is currently 2-1 on the season heading into tonight’s road game with Douglas Byrd. Laton has guided the boys team to a 3-1 mark and will face the Eagles today in the nightcap of the doubleheader.
“We are honored to be invited to the Robeson County Shootout,” DeFrate said. “We will have some good Christmas cheer and good competition.”
Laton added he feels the Shootout will benefit his team down the road, especially in the playoffs.
“We’re looking forward to participating in it,” Laton said. “We are going to play some very good teams and good players. I think this will help prepare us for the playoffs, when it is just like playing in a tournament. We will be playing in a tournament before Christmas and one after Christmas.”
Both teams will travel to St. Pauls in the opening round of the Shootout. St. Pauls girls coach Michael White teased DeFrate by telling her “we will show them some warm Robeson County hospitality,” then cruise to a big win.
The second-year St. Pauls coach quickly followed his statement by telling the room his team is off to slow start and is “vertically challenged.”
St. Pauls is 0-5 on the season, which doesn’t include Wednesday’s road contest with Gray’s Creek. St. Pauls has struggled offensively, averaging just 28 points a game. On defense, it is allowing 47.4 points per contest.
The Bulldogs have lost four of their games by at least 20 points a game. The team’s closest game was a 35-34 loss to Southeastern Conference member Lumberton.
St. Pauls’ boys team has also struggled in the early part of the season. Coach Travis Lemanski said his team has one senior in the starting lineup along with four sophomores.
“Our tallest guy is like 6-2 or 6-3,” Lemanski said. “We will play up-tempo, try to turn you over if we can and get easy scores. I don’t know anything about Richmond and that’s kinda cool.”
The Bulldogs are 1-4, not including the result from their game Wednesday with the Bears. They are scoring 49.6 points and surrendering 67.6 points a contest. The team’s lone win was a five-point victory over Gray’s Creek earlier this season.
Paired with Richmond and St. Pauls in the top half of the bracket are Fairmont and Red Springs. The Golden Tornadoes will play host to the Red Devils. In the lower half of the bracket, South Robeson will travel to Lumberton and Dillon (S.C.) will visit Purnell Swett. The first round games are set for Wednesday.
The losers of the opening contests will square off Thursday, while the winners will receive a night off before returning to action Friday. The losing teams in the upper half of the bracket will play at Red Springs, while the winners will battle at Fairmont. The losers in the lower half of the bracket will take to the court in South Robeson, while Lumberton will play host to the winners.
All of Saturday’s contests will be played at the English E. Jones Center on the UNC Pembroke campus.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.
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