2009 All-Rowan County Basketball, Girls player of the year: Salisbury’s Shi-Heria Shipp
By Bret Strelow
When Salisbury coach Andrew Mitchell relented and allowed point guard Shi-Heria Shipp to defend East Davidson frontcourt star Anna Freeman, he was working off first-hand knowledge.
Mitchell has experience trying to score against Shipp, whose effort to slow Freeman in the Western Regional final helped the Hornets clear a frustrating obstacle en route to the 2A state championship.
Skilled enough to run an offense and tall enough to excel in the post, Shipp is the Rowan County girls player of the year.
“When we play I back her into the post and she backs me down,” Mitchell said. “I steal the ball from her and she steals it from me. I have a great deal of respect for her game as a ballplayer. She is truly, truly a super athlete.”
Shipp ó who has narrowed her college destination down to George Washington, Appalachian State and South Alabama ó averaged 13.7 points as a Salisbury senior.
The Hornets lost in the 2A final when Shipp was a freshman, and she had a big hand in leading them back to the championship round.
East Davidson swept Salisbury during the regular season and won a matchup in the CCC tournament final. Shipp asked Mitchell for the opportunity to guard Freeman ó a talented scorer, passer and rebounder ó in the regional final.
“She’s a really good player,” Shipp said. “I was like, ‘Coach, I think I can handle it. I want to give it a try.’ He really didn’t want me to do it because he thought I’d get into foul trouble.
“Just getting beat by them three times, I was tired of it. I wanted to win a state championship.”
Freeman finished with five points, five assists and 14 rebounds in Salisbury’s 26-24 victory. She shot 2-for-14 from the field.
Shipp managed eight points in the game.
“She sacrificed and gave of herself,” Mitchell said. “She could have easily averaged 20 points this year, could have been selfish and took that mindset, but she pretty much took the stand of doing what you need me to do. I appreciated that so much. She could have easily rejected it.”
Shipp reacted with genuine surprise upon learning she had been selected player of the year. She complimented East Rowan senior Katelynne Poole, calling her just as worthy of a candidate.
George Washington appears to be the frontrunner for Shipp’s future services. Assistant coach Richard Moore, who was on the Belmont Abbey staff from 1992-2001, knows Mitchell from his time at Johnson C. Smith.
The Colonials went 17-14 overall and tied for fourth place in the Atlantic 10 this past season, head coach Mike Bozeman’s first in charge. They played Tennessee, Rutgers, Auburn and Texas A&M in non-conference games.
“No matter where she goes she’s going to do fine,” Mitchell said. “She’ll elevate her game to the level of the competition. She’s got the skills you need to play on any level.”