Moir Christmas Classic: Shipp’s in the history book

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

By David Shaw
Shi-Heria Shipp belongs to history now.The Salisbury senior will have to clear some space on her family’s mantel after being named MVP of the Sam Moir Christmas Classic for a record third time.
“I just see it as something I’m picking up along the way,” Shipp said Tuesday at Goodman Gym, where she led the Hornets to a 75-56 win over East Rowan and a sixth straight tourney title. “I mean, if we’re really that good, we should win the state championship. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
Shipp leapfrogged a couple of two-time MVPs ó South Rowan’s Tracy Connor (1990, 1991) and Salisbury great Shayla Fields (2003, 2004). And she did it by filling the box score with a signature performance ó 19 points, four assists and four rebounds.
“I’m not surprised,” said Salisbury’s Andrew Mitchell, Shipp’s third coach in the last three seasons. “I think the bigger the game, the better she plays. She’s a big-time player, and the best is yet to come.”
Shipp went 15-for-34 from the field and scored 35 points in tournament victories over Davie County and East. She sparked last night’s decision with a pivotal defensive play late in the opening quarter. The score was tied 10-10 when she stole the ball from East’s Katelynne Poole and used a pair of gazelle-like strides to hit a go-ahead layup, triggering an 11-0 scoring spree that put the game out of reach.
“In the last game I didn’t play a lot of defense,” Shipp said. “That was a chance to make a play. I just put some pressure on her, made the steal and got the easy basket.”
Afterward, accolades came pouring in from friends and foes alike.
“I think she’s grown tremendously,” said Osborne Fields, Shayla’s father and a longtime SHS assistant. “Her first year here she was very green, very raw. But she had the opportunity to speak with Shayla, who kind of tutored her. She’s learned well. I know Shayla would be proud of her.”
So is Mitchell.
“When she decides to dominate on every play, she’s hard to stop,” he gushed. “On that steal, that’s a play she makes all the time. Whenever we need something big, we can count on her. We feel confident any time she’s on the floor.”
Even Poole, Shipp’s AAU travel-partner last summer, knows her friend has become a dependable team player.
“I’m proud of her and everything she’s accomplished,” Poole said. “She’s probably their best defender. She could be playing in college right now.”
That’s a story for another day, though Mitchell is already fielding inquiries from Division I programs. Shipp remains the Hornets’ reigning Queen Bee ó one whom Mitchell reports has met all NCAA scholarship requirements.
“She’s on her way,” he said. “And I mean big time.”
Fields, for one, chose to honor and celebrate the evening’s MVP award.
“This third time probably means as much to me as it does to her,” he said. “I’ve been there every step of the way. I’ve watched her blossom ó and it’s a wonderful feeling.”