NewBridge Classic: Lady Panthers run by THS in finals
Not often do the Thomasville girls get beat at their own game, especially against a team like Ledford that prefers to be patient on offense.
But for a brief span late in Saturday's NewBridge Bank Christmas Classic at Ledford High School, the Lady Panthers turned the tables on the Bulldogs, using its transition game to score three unanswered buckets in helping them pull away for a 56-48 finals victory. Nobody was more surprised than LHS head coach Chris Doby.
“I did not see that coming,” Doby said. “The girls decided they wanted to win it and it really had nothing to do to me.”
Thomasville was clinging to a 47-43 lead with under three minutes to play and had its two stars in Christina Coleman and Jashana Thomas competing with four fouls.
Jordan Teer cut the deficit in half hitting a pair of free throws, then the LHS defense rose to the occasion. Outrebounded for much of the game, the Panthers held their own on the glass and used outlet passes for fast-break buckets.
Alyssa Doby scored a layup in transition before Teer tossed ahead to Julia Carroll for another layup. THS head coach Brandon Staton called for time, setting up a shot for Coleman. Her shot was off, allowing Doby to get control and outlet to Carroll for another deuce. LHS (9-3) went up 51-47 and the Bulldogs began to lose their composure as the clock neared a minute to play.
Dribbling near the timeline, Thomas extended her arm and knocked down Mackenzie Cranford. She was whistled for a fifth foul, then was hit with a technical foul. Cranford made the free throws and Carroll added two more to put the game away.
“We just lost our composure a little bit,” said Staton. “We just got a little static. We've got to learn to play under pressure. That is a well-coached team over there that made some plays at the end.”
Doby certainly had his concerns before the championship meeting. The two schools had not battled against each other in more than a decade.
“They are a heckuva team and are athletic and fast,” he said. “We were concerned coming in not knowing how we would match up.”
Thomasville (7-1) relied heavily on Coleman and Thomas, who combined for 32 of the 48 points. Staton knows his club is going to need production from elsewhere in tough games.
“Everybody has to step up and we cannot rely on our two girls,” Staton said. “We need others to step up and do their part. This was a good loss for us and shows the other girls they need to do a better job.”
Carroll scored a game-high 18 points to earn all-tournament honors. Cranford had 10 in earning MVP honors. Others making the all-tournament team were Courtney Callicutt (Ledford), Coleman, Thomas and Bayley Plummer (East Davidson).
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.