Shawn Smoot in Davie Hall of Fame

Published 10:48 am Thursday, August 15, 2019

By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

Under legendary coach Bill Peeler, Davie girls basketball was dominant for years and years. Then his War Eagles hit a rut. In 1984-85, they went 8-18. They next year wasn’t any better, 7-16.

Shawn Smoot and Co. orchestrated a revival. After winning 15 games across two years, Smoot carried Davie to 13 wins as a sophomore in 1986-87. (Back then, Davie County freshmen attended one of the junior highs, North Davie or South Davie.)

One thing that defined Smoot was being consistently good. She led Davie in scoring all three years. Smoot (Class of 1989), Rex Allen (1979), Whit Merrifield (2007), Michael Waters (2011)  and the 2005-06 wrestling team will be inducted in the Davie County Athletics Hall of Fame in January 2020.

When the 1986-87 season rolled around, Peeler was coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in his long career. (Peeler retired in 1988 with a 445-220 record in 28 years, with 15 conference championships to his credit.)

As a 5-foot-2 sophomore guard, Smoot was stellar right away. In the third game of the season, the 0-2 War Eagles met 2-0 West Rowan. Smoot put up 17 points to lead a 46-38 win.

Enterprise sports writer Ronnie Gallagher wrote: No, those Davie County basketball fans aren’t booing. They’re yelling, “Smoooot …. Smoooot.”

West Rowan coach James Rollans said then: “We couldn’t stay with (Smoot). She is as fast as any girl we’ve faced. She played with a lot of poise – all of the sophomores did. I certainly wasn’t expecting that.”

Smoot never looked back. She scored 40 points as Davie went 2-1 in the Catawba Christmas Tournament. In a one-point win over Salisbury, she scored six in 25 seconds.

Gallagher wrote: Smoot seemed to come up with all the crucial shots, steals, assists and rebounds.

As Gallagher noted, Smoot was not just a scorer. She was an all-around force. In a 52-45 loss to North Davidson, she had 17 points and 12 rebounds. In a win over Mt. Tabor, she had 25 points and five assists, hitting 10 of 17 field goals. In a 55-47 loss to Kannapolis, she had 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting. In a 47-43 win over South Rowan, she had 21 points.

Davie hit a wall late in the year. In the first round of the CPC Tournament, the third-seeded War Eagles were upset, 56-39, by No. 6 Kannapolis. In the first round of the 4-A state playoffs, the War Eagles fell 65-52 at Eden Morehead. Smoot, though, was terrific in defeat, scoring 24 points while drilling 11 of 15 shots.

Peeler said then: “Shawn wouldn’t shoot much early in the game. But once she did, she hit 11 shots in a row.”

The 1986-87 War Eagles finished 13-12 and 9-5 in the CPC, good for third place with a six-win jump from the previous year.

Smoot was the lone All-CPC player from Davie after averaging 16.2 points and 3.7 assists. She shot a team-best 44.8 percent from the floor (166 of 370).

Sophomore Shannon Jordan averaged 9.6 points and 3.7 assists. Senior Julie Freshwater averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds. And sophomore Beth Mashburn averaged 6.9 points and 6.6 rebounds.

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As a junior, Smoot made her presence felt in the second game of the season.

With Davie and West Rowan tied, a Falcon missed two free throws with 56 seconds remaining. Davie controlled the board and got the ball to Smoot. She milked the clock, then swished a 12-footer with one second left to give Davie a 48-46 win.

In a 44-40 overtime win over Parkland, Smoot had 21 points.

The War Eagles staged an incredible comeback against North Davidson, which led by 20 in the second half. Davie went on a 19-1 run and escaped 56-52. Smoot had 18 points. Mashburn piled up 16 points and 14 boards.

Mashburn put on a show in a 79-75 loss at North Davidson, scoring 39 points.

A game against Mt. Tabor was tied at 33 before Smoot nailed two straight 3-pointers. Davie prevailed 56-50 as Smoot finished with 21 points and four assists. Debbie Evans was a huge factor with 17 points and 11 boards.

Smoot had 20 points in a loss to first-place Reynolds, but her 22-point effort against second-place South Rowan was more important. Davie pulled a 58-39 shocker over the Raiders. Evans stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Peeler said of Smoot: “You could see it in her eyes that she wanted to win.”

After finishing third in the CPC the year before, the War Eagles stepped it up to 8-5 in 1987-88, finishing in a three-way tie for second. Unfortunately, they stumbled in the CPC Tournament semifinals and failed to make the state playoffs. Their final record was 12-13.

The All-CPC selections from Davie were Smoot, who averaged 13.5 points, 5 rebounds and 3.3 assists, and Mashburn, who contributed 10.6 points and 7.5 rebounds. Sophomore Evans averaged 7.5 points.

Peeler retired from coaching following the ‘88 season. He handed the reigns to the fiery and passionate Angie Browder, the point guard on his powerhouse teams from 1981-82 through 1983-84.

Shannon Jordan, who quit the team halfway through the 1987-88 season, decided to come back for her senior year. With Smoot and Jordan in the backcourt and Mashburn at forward, Browder had three stalwarts who would become known as the “Three Amigos.” They were also teammates going back to their South Davie days and were super-tight. With steady role players around them, Davie was ready to take the next step in 1988-89.

In a 50-44 nonconference loss to powerful Statesville, Smoot had 20 points. In a 54-38 nonconference win over West Rowan, Smoot compiled 20 points, six assists and five steals.

A 52-50 nonconference loss to 5-0 North Iredell went down as a moral victory; Davie was throttled 89-61 in the first meeting. Smoot had 15 points and nine rebounds in the two-point loss.

In the first round of the Catawba Christmas Tournament, Smoot had 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting as Davie thumped Salisbury 45-30.

After day two of the five-day event, Catawba Athletic Director David Wood made a controversial decision to cancel the final three days of the tournament. The reason: a red measles epidemic in Rowan County. Davie was ready to get on the bus and face No. 1 North Rowan and star Lola Jones, who lived in Davie County, in the semifinals.

A seething Browder said then: “I’m so disappointed. This is the last chance these seniors have to win the Christmas tournament, and they really felt like they had a legitimate chance. It seems like to me that they could do something to get the tournament finished. No one could be madder about not playing than I am. We were going to win that tournament.”

In CPC play, Davie outlasted Mt. Tabor 67-64 thanks to Smoot’s cold-blooded 3-pointer. Her bomb with a minute left provided a 65-61 lead.

Browder: “We’re not a team that shoots 3-pointers. I don’t want the girls taking them. But Shawn is our best 3-point shooter and she felt like she could make it.”

Smoot put up 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Samantha Simpson, a 5-9 senior center, chipped in 10 points, five boards and five assists.

The War Eagles fell 61-56 to West Forsyth – Smoot and Jordan had 20 and 19, respectively – but they responded with an 82-56 drubbing of Reynolds. Mashburn, a double-double machine, had 28 points and 12 boards. Smoot collected nine points, an eye-popping 13 assists and five rebounds.

North Davidson beat Davie in the first meeting as Black Knight star Amy Ellis tormented Davie with 29 points, and the rival from Welcome was 6-0 heading into the rematch. Davie got payback in a big way, 64-48. Simpson smothered Ellis, who managed just 10 points. Mashburn had 20 points. Jordan, who had several awesome games, delivered 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Smoot’s defensive play preserved a 65-63 win over Reynolds. The Demons had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, but Smoot stole a pass at :08. Jordan had 17 points. Mashburn had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Smoot had 14 points and eight assists. Simpson had 11 points.

The War Eagles picked up another revenge win, beating West Forsyth 55-48. Smoot had 17 team-high points as Davie won for the ninth time in 11 games. Jordan had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Mashburn had 12 points and 15 rebounds. Evans chipped in five assists.

Davie was in first place and leading South Rowan 30-19 at halftime. It held a seemingly comfortable 54-46 lead with less than four minutes to go. A meltdown ensued. Davie lost 59-57 and dropped to third place. It was victimized by Tammy Mabry, who nailed a 10-foot game-winner  at :03 and finished with 27 points and 20 boards. Jordan had 18 points and seven assists in bitter defeat. Mashburn had 16 points. Smoot had 15 points and seven assists. Simpson controlled 10 boards.

A lopsided win at Parkland to close the regular season is remembered for a trio of milestones for the “Three Amigos.” Smoot reached the 1,000-point plateau. Jordan notched career point No. 500. Mashburn grabbed her 500th career rebound. Browder counted her blessings for inheriting a win-now roster.

“If this was a card game, (Peeler) dealt me a full house,” Browder said. “I was very lucky to come in with three players as good as they are.”

At 8-3, Davie finished second in the CPC. It was a weird regular-season race. Because of snowstorms, Davie only faced South Rowan once, and both games against Kannapolis were snowed out.

In the first round of the CPC Tournament, Mashburn (32 points, 13 rebounds), Simpson (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Smoot (10 points, seven assists) powered second-seeded Davie to a 61-49 win over Mt. Tabor. Gallagher wrote: Smoot dazzled the crowd with her passing.

In the semifinals, Smoot burned Kannapolis with 24 points and seven assists. She converted 10 of 19 shots, including four 3s, as Davie survived 65-61. Give much credit to Buffy Beck, who hit two free throws with 1:24 left to give Davie the lead for good at 62-61, and Simpson, who contributed 11 points, eight rebounds and hit two clutch baskets over Ashlyn McCombs.

Simpson said: “I wanted to play well against (McCombs) because we don’t really like each other. She was pushing and I pushed back.”

The tournament final was held at Mt. Tabor. The opponent was Reynolds, which snatched the title the previous two years. Davie returned to glory with a 61-45 triumph.

Davie started sluggishly. With Smoot and Jordan scoring 20 of their team’s 22 points in one stretch, the War Eagles turned a 9-2 deficit into a lead. Jordan finished with 22 and Smoot 18 as Davie ended a four-year title drought.

Browder: “They make up the best pair of guards I’ve seen. It’s hard to think of two who play better together.”

Mashburn had 10 points. Simpson, who played a vital role for the third straight game, had eight points and 13 boards.

Browder: “These girls really deserved this. This tournament showed how well-rounded we can be. Coach Peeler really hooked me up with a good team when I started this year.”

In the first round of the 4-A playoffs, Davie met Charlotte Olympic at Greensboro Smith. Olympic blitzed Davie 23-6 out of the gate. Then came a stirring comeback. Two steals by Smoot keyed a 9-2 run that chopped the deficit to 52-51. Davie came painfully close but fell short 60-57. Mashburn had 23 points. Jordan had 15 points and six assists. Smoot had 10 points and 14 assists. Simpson pulled down 18 rebounds.

Browder: “I wouldn’t feel so bad if we had played well and lost to a good team. But we didn’t play well at all and we were better than Olympic.”

Davie ran out of gas at 14-8, the most wins since Browder’s senior season in 1984 produced 23-5 and two conference titles. Browder was named CPC Coach of the Year. Smoot made the All-CPC team for the third time. Mashburn and Jordan were also selected to the team.

Smoot averaged 14.9 points, 5.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds. Mashburn averaged 13.5 points and 8 boards. Jordan averaged 11.7 points and 4.5 assists. Simpson averaged 5.5 points and 7 boards. Davie was the only CPC team with three double-figure scorers.

Smoot fulfilled all expectations – and then some.

Browder: “I knew she was good, but she was better than I imagined. Shawn can do it all – pass, rebound and shoot. She dribbles with both hands and is so quick it’s hard to press her. She’s been everything I thought she would be – and more.”

Smoot’s offensive excellence has stood the test of time. Only 11 females have entered the 1,000-point club in Davie’s 63-year history. With 1,070 points in three years, Smoot ranks eighth on the list.