NewBridge Classic: Falcons tournament champions again

Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:14 AM

Four minutes proved to be the difference in determining the 2012 NewBridge Bank Christmas Classic champion Friday.
Clinging to a two-point lead in a tight game throughout, Ledford went cold and had several costly turnovers, allowing Southeast Guilford to strike. The 9-0 run the Falcons posted was just enough in helping them secure a second straight tournament title, 46-44.
“It is always fun coming over here and we have been fortunate the last couple of years to pull it out,” said SEG head coach Shawn Newton.
Southeast (13-0) made the winning run by aggressively cutting through the lane and getting to the charity stripe. They visited the line 11 times in the fourth quarter, making 14 of their 21 attempts. Kayla Upshaw and Kenya Hailey shot 13 of those, hitting the offensive glass and hustling to loose balls.
Still, the seven-point lead with four minutes remaining was nowhere near being safe. Courtney Callicutt worked in the lane for consecutive baskets and when an Emmalee Thomas 3-pointer went in with a little over a minute to go, the Panthers were within five. They continued to claw back with Callicutt making it a one possession game with 18 seconds to go. Upshaw was fouled and made the front end of the double bonus. Her second pitch missed and Ledford raced down the court. The Panthers put up three shots before Brie Grier finally put the ball in with a layup at the buzzer, leaving LHS two shy of overtime.
It was a tough way to go out for the Panthers who held the lead for much of the night.
“We were in it all the way and had the lead a bunch,” said Ledford coach John Ralls. “We just turned it over and let them get up on us and had to fight back. Next time we have got to hang on to the lead.”
Ledford (10-3) was patient on offense in the first half to limit the Falcons from getting out and running. The pace favored the Panthers who led by as much as seven in the first half.
Southeast was able to speed up the tempo second half and forced Ledford to play out of control at times. By the time the Panthers had settled down, the deficit was up to seven.
“We did not execute the way would have liked against the press,” said Ralls. “We got a little rattled and did some things where we knew better. They did a great job defensively and were tough on us. They are a good team.”
Hailey (17 points) and Upshaw were named to the all-tournament team. Thomas (15 points) and Callicutt (11) were also named. Southeast’s Kara Shutt was MVP.

Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or