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By Troy Treasure
The last time the North Shelby girls and boys both won the NS Tournament, head coach Landon Daniel was five years old.
The year was 1993. Daniel’s current girls’ assistant coach, Jamie Williams, was his babysitter.
Saturday night, Daniel and Williams guided the No. 3 seed Lady Raiders to a 66-44 victory against fourth-seed South Shelby in the championship game of the 33rd annual tournament.
Later in the evening, NS boys defeated Scotland County, 67-56.
“That’s something these kids will remember for the rest of their lives,” Daniel said. “I told them it’s going to be immortalized in the program. It’s there. Everybody’s going to see it. 2021, both teams won it.”
North Shelby girls’ teams won the first six tournament titles from 1989 to 1994. The last female squad to do it, however, was in 1999.
The Lady Raiders (11-3) led 27-21 at the break.
“We into halftime and I told the girls that the only points they (South Shelby) had scored were threes. They didn’t believe me, but it was,” Daniel said.
“I’m going to tell you something, too – free throw shooting,” Daniel added. “South Shelby was 0 for 9; my girls were 19 for 29, which they’re (the Lady Raiders) probably going to be upset about.”
Natalie Thrasher scored a game-high 18 points for North Shelby. Nine of those were third-period 3-pointers. Thrasher was 5 of 5 at the line in the fourth quarter. Caroline Linberger finished with 11, Ava Williams had 10. Adding balance, Lilly Cook (9) and Ceairra Kirby (8) just missed breaking into double figures.
Miranda Patterson paced the Lady Birds with 17 points, 15 on threes. Emma Dovin finished with 12, all treys (three in the fourth quarter). Kaylee Gaines added nine, all first-period 3 pointers.
NS capped an 11-4 third-period surge with consecutive threes from Kirby and Thrasher, the latter at the buzzer.
“South Shelby’s a great team and when we put that run on them, it boosted our confidence a lot.” Kirby said. “We know when they come back with that three and their shooting’s on, they are dangerous.”
Kirby indicated it was good to be a part of making school history.
“It feels great. It was awesome, especially against South Shelby,” she said. “I’m very proud of my team.”
Daniel emphasized the importance of bench play, specifically citing senior Hannah Wahl’s effort. Wahl scored two field goals in the fourth quarter.
“Hannah Wahl played a hell of a game,” Daniel said. “Hannah came off the bench, not only did she go to the rack and score a couple of times, I thought she came in a played really good defense.
“You get a girl who sat out all of last year and play her guts out, that’s exactly what you want to see.”