NCHSAA Playoffs: Ledford falls in regional semifinal
There is an old basketball adage that says pressing teams do not like to be pressed. If Thursday's 3-A Regional semifinal was any indication, this mantra holds true.
Ledford's girls basketball season came to an end at Fleming Gymnasium after falling to an aggressive Harding University High School for a second straight postseason, this time suffering a 62-44 defeat.
"They dump-trucked us," Panthers coach John Ralls said. "We probably stayed in man-to-man a quarter and seven minutes too long, and I don't know if it would have made any difference what we did. They played really well."
Myicha Drakeford was one of four Harding starters in double figures. She scored 18 points to lead the Cougars, while Brianna Hamrick wrought havoc on the interior of Ledford's defense, tallying 14 points and eight rebounds.
"One of the things about our offense, we try to have five or six options," Harding coach Anthony Jones said. "We've got it where everybody is going to get a touch. It's a blessing to have four people to get in doubles; that's kind of rare. When you get that going, it means we're playing some good basketball."
Emmalee Thomas paced the Panthers in scoring with 14, but was held in check throughout the second half.
After the break, Harding's Keousha Griffin was given a single assignment: get in the face of Thomas. Griffin face-guarded Ledford's best player throughout the final 16 minutes, harassing her all over the floor and denying Thomas touches.
"What a player," Jones said of Thomas. "The thing I like about her is that there were a couple times when she knew her shot wasn't going in, but she followed it anyway. That's just good basketball. You have to give a player like that respect."
The Panthers (26-4) were uncharacteristically flawed fundamentally. Sloppy passes led to turnovers, which led to points. Despite out-hustled by the Cougars, though, senior Samantha Miller was able to put the season into perspective following the loss.
"I definitely wouldn't have wanted to play with anybody else," Miller said. "That team has become my family. I can go to them for anything. That's really what the season was about — becoming a family."
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.