Prep Hoops: Lady Panthers claim fifth straight MPC regular season title
Not so long ago, the Ledford Panthers dominated the 2-A ranks and became fixtures of the state’s postseason tournaments.
It seems that excellence will continue at the 3-A level, as the Panthers won their fifth consecutive Mid-Piedmont Conference championship Monday night with a 69-57 victory over the Southwestern Randolph Cougars.
“I’m so proud of these girls,” Ledford coach Chris Doby said. “That’s five years in a row. Since they’ve made the Mid-Piedmont Conference, we’ve been champions of it. We’re not satisfied. Now, we want to go win the tournament.”
Courtney Callicutt recorded a triple-double for the Panthers (19-5, 11-1 MPC 3-A), tallying 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 steals. She set the tone defensively, swatting away three shots in the first half before making several beautiful cuts to the basket that led to points, helping Ledford build a substantial lead early.
A 23-2 run that spanned nearly the entire first half powered Ledford to a 17-point lead at the half. After the game, the senior forward waxed poetic about the history of the program.
“It feels amazing, especially beating a team like [Southwestern Randolph,” Callicutt said. “For us to win the regular season and continue the legacy we have, as an entire organization of Ledford basketball, it makes me proud to be a Ledford Panther.”
Turnovers committed by an uncharacteristically sloppy Cougars squad led to run-outs and easy baskets for Ledford. Julia Carroll had scored a game-high 23 points, capitalizing on almost every fast-break opportunity.
Southwestern Randolph (20-4, 10-2 MPC 3-A) cut into the lead in the fourth quarter, narrowing the deficit to eight with 2:41 to go, but could not complete the comeback.
“We knew they were coming,” Doby said. “We went back and looked at the first game with those guys. They made a lot of baskets. This game is playing defense and putting the ball in the hole. Tonight, we were able to play defense and put the ball in the hole.”