BISHOPVILLE - You'll need to forgive the players on Robert E. Lee's varsity girls basketball team if they seem a little more tired than usual over the next couple of months.
The Lady Cavaliers finished 16-7 before losing to Spartanburg Day in the …
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The Lady Cavaliers finished 16-7 before losing to Spartanburg Day in the quarterfinals of the SCISA 2A state playoffs last season. This year, they'll look to take the next step, but will do so with just six players.
Gone from last year's team are seniors Carson Shannon, Emme McCutchen and Amy Beth McCutchen, as well as junior MJ Logan.
Senior guard Rebecca Dinkins and junior guard Caleigh Barrett are expected to lead the way this season. They've proven more than capable in their first two games, defeating Williamsburg Academy 70-21 in their first game, and Thomas Sumter Academy 57-43 on Monday at the REL gymnasium..
Dinkins led the team with 29 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists against Williamsburg, but it was Barrett's six 3-point baskets that paced REL against Thomas Sumter. The junior sharpshooter finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and six steals, while Dinkins added 17 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists.
"They just work hard all the time," said Robert E. Lee head coach Kim Langston of his players. "They played great. We only have six players, and we rotate them as much we can just to keep them fresh. They listen and do everything I ask them to do."
The Lady Cavaliers are just two years removed from a 5-win season, but thanks to the development of Dinkins and Barrett they appear on pace for another postseason appearance.
"Rebecca is our senior, and she's one of our captains," said Langston. "She ended up with four fouls (against Thomas Sumter) with 6:40 to go, and I told her 'I'm going to see what kind of player you are -- if you can stay in or not and she played under control'. I was very proud of her."
While Dinkins and Barrett handle the backcourt duties along with guard Mallory Christmas, it's junior Lacie McElveen providing the scoring and rebounding up front with Devin Atkinson and McKenzie Shannon. McElveen filled the box score against Thomas Sumter, scoring five points along with 11 rebounds, five steals, and four blocks.
"We have an inside-outside game and (on Monday night) they were just giving us the outside shot so we took what they were giving us," said Langston. "When they took that away then we went inside."
Robert E. Lee jumped out to a 24-8 lead against the Lady Generals, but the deeper TSA team with four seniors fought back, closing the gap to 46-40 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
"We were missing some shots and they started making some shots," said Langston. "You can't take anything away from Thomas Sumter. They're a great ball club, and they're very well coached, and they come at you with everything they have."
Dinkins stepped up with the answer on Monday, scoring on a layup to stretch the lead to nine points, but it was Christmas who put the game away with a pair of baskets late in the game.
"I'm proud of all of their efforts," said Langston. "Everybody does a great job, and they work hard every day."
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