For many high school programs, a first place in holiday tournament competition would be just another piece of hardware in the trophy case.
But for South Pointe, the championship of the ninth Lindberg Moody Memorial Basketball Tournament carries much more significance.
"This means a lot to our program," Stallions coach Dwayne Hartsoe said after his team held off Olympic (N.C.), 60-50, in the tournament finals Saturday. "We are still a very young program. So to win a tournament of this significance against quality competition is a real good building block for us.
"It is big for us as we go into region play," Hartsoe added. "And this prepares us as we will play against very tough competition next week in an international tournament in Charleston."
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Led by guard Stephon Gilmore, the Stallions took a five-point lead after three quarters and were able to hold off a strong Trojans surge down the stretch with clutch free-throw shooting and ball-handling.
Gilmore, named tournament MVP, netted 22 points, including four straight free throws within the final minute to preserve the victory.
The Stallions were ahead 47-42 after three quarters, but Olympic came within two when guard Adam Hunt drove the length of the court for a layup while being fouled. He converted the ensuing free throw.
Jamar Banks powered home an inside hoop for South Pointe, but Hunt answered with a jumper to keep the Trojans within two, 49-47.
Olympic stepped up the defensive pressure, but the Stallions handled it calmly. Banks scored again on the inside after grabbing an offensive rebound. He was fouled on the play and sank the free throw for a three-point play.
On the next South Pointe possession, Cory Kessler took a pass in the corner and swished a 3-pointer for a 55-47 lead with 2:34 remaining.
Hunt answered with a trey for Olympic, but South Pointe executed flawlessly in the spread offense. After three Olympic fouls within the final 1:02, the Stallions converted all six attempts with Tre Erby sinking two and Gilmore adding four straight to seal the tournament title.
"We got solid guard play in the second half, that was very crucial," Hartsoe said.
Gilmore was a unanimous pick to the all-tournament team. His teammates, Erby and Kessler, also received all-tournament awards. The remainder of the squad included Evan Andert of Westminister Catawba, Drayton Wade of Northwestern (JV), Donald Sims of Chester, LaDarius Hinton of Lewisville, Johntavious Stewart of Rock Hill, Zach Beaver of Northwestern, and Adam Hunt and Jon Gatling of Olympic.