South Pointe's in the championship game of the Lindberg Moody Memorial Basketball Tournament today after beating Rock Hill for the first time, 69-39.
The Stallions, now 6-2 on the season, lost twice to the Bearcats last season. South Pointe coach Dwayne Hartsoe said his team wanted to have a chance to win the tournament. The opponent in its way happened to be Rock Hill.
"We were just trying to get to the championship game. We weren't thinking so much about beating Rock Hill for the first time," Hartsoe explained.
South Pointe used a 10-0 run in the second quarter to open up a 31-13 lead. Cory Kessler came off the bench to spark the run, hitting a pair of 3-pointers from the left corner and a jumper from the same base line. He finished with 10 points on the night.
"Kessler gave us a lift. He can shoot the ball," Hartsoe said. "He gave us some room in the second quarter.
"We got a big lead last night (Thursday) against Lewisville. We relaxed and they came back on us. It was good that we got the lead tonight and kept the intensity."
The Stallions had 13 of 14 players on its roster score in the game. They have a deep bench, and are still awaiting the return of starter Devin Wherry. The junior power forward had knee surgery earlier this month. He is three or four weeks away from playing, according to Hartsoe.
Every game seems to feature a different player for the Stallions. Stephon Gilmore and Tre Erby teamed up for 44 points Thursday night against Lewisville.
Gilmore led South Pointe with 11 points and three assists against Rock Hill. Erby finished with eight points.
Rock Hill (4-5) was led by Alex Robinson's 11 points.
Despite the final score, Bearcats coach Bobby Stevens was pleased with his team's effort.
"We broke down South Pointe's defense in the first half. We got exactly the shots we wanted," Stevens said.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well tonight, but we executed our offense very well. We have good shooters on this team. We'll knock those shots down most nights.
Rock Hill sent the Stallions to the free throw line 35 times by committing 25 fouls. The Bearcats were whistled for three technicals in the second half.
South Pointe made 21 foul shots in the game. Rock Hill attempted just 10 free throws.
"Our defense was not where it should be," said Stevens. "We're playing against a tough team and Stephon Gilmore is one of the best guards in the country."
Hartsoe said the lopsided win will give his team confidence when it returns to Region 3-AAAA action Jan. 2.
But the big loss could fuel Rock Hill when the teams meet Jan. 8 at Rock Hill High.
LINDBERG MOODY MEMORIAL BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
• Northwestern JV vs. Westminster Catawba, 3 p.m.
• Lewisville vs. Chester, 4:30 p.m.
• Rock Hill vs. Northwestern, 6 p.m.
• South Pointe vs. Olympic (N.C.), 7:30 p.m., championship game