Senior point guard comes up big for Ragin' Bulls

Playing on a senior-laden team, Kellen Lipscomb bided his time for part of last year's basketball season.

He was the backup point guard for Hickory Ridge High School, which was on its way to its most successful season its short history.

When Lipscomb made his way into the Ragin' Bulls' starting lineup midway through the season, he made the most of it and paved the way for a senior season rich with highlights.

This year, he was one of the team's elder statesmen, and his play on the court made him an All-South Piedmont Conference selection.

Hickory Ridge lost 10 seniors from last year's team, which reached the third round of the state playoffs for the first time. Lipscomb and fellow rising senior Seth Still were the two key players returning to this year's squad.

"Seth and I were the two juniors that came off the bench," said Lipscomb. "We both developed a way to get playing time last year. When I started playing well last year, it gave me confidence."

No one, however, could have predicted the monstrous game that Lipscomb would have in his senior debut.

In a 75-40 win at China Grove Carson, Lipscomb scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out eight assists and had eight steals. Those numbers nearly gave him the most improbable of basketball feats, a quadruple-double.

"I started thinking, 'I could be pretty good. I can do this.' My coach (Robert Machado) would tell me, 'You were a leader last year. I'm looking for you to step up and win ballgames for us.' "

As the Bulls defeated Marvin Ridge for the first time in five years, Lipscomb had 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and five steals. Hickory Ridge was on its way to winning its first eight games of the season, and Lipscomb was playing a huge part.

The senior point guard was pivotal in a 61-56 victory over a Sun Valley team that had been ranked in the Observer's Sweet 16. Just like against Marvin Ridge, Lipscomb and the Bulls were playing well on the road. He totaled 14 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Hickory Ridge started to slip a little once it hit the conference schedule, but Lipscomb didn't slow down. Against Concord, the eventual SPC regular-season champion, Lipscomb scored 16 and pulled down eight boards while registering seven steals.

Heading into the state playoffs, he was averaging 11 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists a game.

"He's just a great kid, around the locker room and around school," said Machado. "He's just a great student-athlete. He will be one that I sorely miss.

"The career he's had here in a short time has really been impressive. He played behind some pretty good guards last year and got an opportunity this year to really step up and shine."

When Lipscomb came off the bench last year, he was in a nine-man rotation and played serious minutes. As the season progressed, he cracked the starting lineup and was often on the floor during crunch time.

His crunch-time highlight came in a second-round playoff game against Statesville. Lipscomb drained a three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation to push the game to overtime, which the Bulls eventually won. He scored 12 points that game, but his season high came at Cox Mill, where he poured in 17.

Lipscomb had an excellent junior year, coming a long way from his freshman season, when he believed he was a non-athletic JV player who needed to grow into his body.

Lipscomb and Hickory Ridge's season ended last week in the first round of the 3A state playoffs in a 82-69 loss to North Forsyth.