Courtesy of one of our loyal readers…..
from the Lexington Dispatch…..
WALLBURG…Ledford girls’ basketball coach John Ralls wasn’t sure if
the mental and emotional pressure of playing in a championship game in its own gym was too much for his team to handle.
But there was no doubt that Southeast Guilford’s physical, full-court
pressure defense in the second half took its toll as the Panthers fell
49-41 in the championship game of the Newbridge Bank Christmas Classic
at Ledford High School on Thursday.
The Panthers managed just one point in the third quarter and quickly saw
their 25-18 halftime advantage nearly evaporate after the Falcons scored
after two steals to start the half. The second basket, a 3-pointer by
point guard Kara Shutt, sliced Ledford’s lead to three just 23 seconds
in the second half.
Ledford committed turnovers on 9-of-11 possessions, was outscored 14-1
in the third and struggled mightily at times to get the ball across half
court against the Falcons’ relentless full-court pressure. The Falcons
took advantage of the miscues to claim the lead for good after a jumper
from the wing by tournament MVP Kenya Hailey.
“We let it get to us early,” Ralls said. “It shouldn’t have bothered us.
We gave up a couple of quick baskets with a couple of turnovers in the
first two possessions to let them right back in it. We tried to call
timeouts to stop it, slow the pace down, but we just couldn’t stop
The Falcons led by as many as 10 in the fourth quarter, before Ledford
rallied to within five in the final two minutes after a Mackenzie
Cranford layup after a steal by reserve forward Jada Bell. The Panthers
were never closer and Southeast finished out the win at the line.
Ledford was hampered by foul trouble, especially guard Courtney
Callicut. The sophomore was whistled for her fourth midway through the
third quarter – and the Panthers’ ballhandling suffered. Callicut and
starting forward Leigh Ann Midkiff fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“Foul trouble hurt us obviously, but it was more about us not taking
care of the ball enough,” Ralls said. “You absolutely have to credit
Southeast for making us turn the ball over. We just didn’t execute.”
Emmalee Thomas carried the Panthers’ offense with a game-high 19 points.
She buried a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter that propelled
Ledford to a 16-5 lead six minutes into the game. The Falcons closed the
first quarter with six points in the final 1:47, but Ledford stretched
the lead back to nine early in the second quarter and led 25-18 at the
Cranford finished with six, while Callicutt, Morgan Gibhardt and Midkiff
added four points each.
Shutt and Hailey finished led the Falcons with 14 points each. Hailey
poured in 11 points in the second half.
NOTES – Joining Shutt on the all-tournament team were Cranford and
Thomas from Ledford, Lexington’s Alexis Fowler and Jennifer Welborn from