2A Girls Sectional Final: Salisbury girls 50, Ledford 33
By Steve Huffman
firstname.lastname@example.orgSalisbury’s girls bowed their backs Friday night, breaking open a close game in the second half en route to a 50-33, 2A sectional finals win over Ledford.
The Hornets (26-3) led just 25-22 with 2:50 to play in the third quarter, but stepped up the defensive pressure from there with a smothering full-court press.
The pressure rattled the Panthers (20-8), though the Hornets didn’t put them away until a 12-0 run in the latter stages of the fourth period.
“You must press them,” said Salisbury coach Andrew Mitchell. “If you let them get into their half-court offense, they’ll beat you. They’re very methodical. They run a patient offense and wear you down.”
It was a slugfest, a physical contest between a pair of teams each playing their third game in five nights, including the second night in a row.
Salisbury had won in Ashe County on Thursday while Ledford had upset North Stanly, a No. 1 seed. It was a victory that meant the No. 1 seeded Hornets got to host Friday’s game.
Their win means this is the seventh consecutive year they’ve qualified for a regional berth.
“It’s a big win for us,” Mitchell said. “It means a great deal to the girls. With all the traveling we’ve done over the past couple of days, I felt they were to be commended.”
Ledford didn’t go down without a fight. Though Salisbury opened a 24-12 lead toward the end of the first half, the Panthers battled back, with Taylor Ballard draining a 3-pointer and Katelyn Todd knocking down a bucket as the gap was narrowed to 25-22.
Even with four minutes to play, the Panthers trailed only 36-28 and Stevi Williams was on the line for a one-and-one that could have pulled the Panthers to within six.
But Williams missed the front end, the Hornets rebounded and it was off to the races in that 12-0 run.
That spurt included De’Rya Wyile feeding Nene Phifer for an easy basket and was capped by a three-point play by Phifer’s sister, Bubbles.
“Before the game, we challenged one another to play with heart and hustle,” said Bubbles, who led the Hornets with 14 points.
“I guess we played with heart and hustle.”
Ledford coach John Ralls said he was proud of his team’s effort, noting that Friday’s game marked the closest the Panthers have played the Hornets in their three meetings this year.
Ralls said he was especially proud when his team closed the gap to three points, but admitted his girls ran out of gas at that point.
“They spurted on us and we turned it over,” Ralls said. “The ballgame boiled down to points off turnovers.”
Ralls laughed when asked if the Panthers had done anything special in preparing for Friday’s game, anything that allowed them to make it more competitive than the teams’ two previous encounters.
“We had no time to prepare,” he said. “That might be the key right there.”
Salisbury got 13 points from Shipp, and six from Nene Phifer, who snuck in several baskets with follows of misses by her teammates.
Salisbury begins regional play Wednesday in Greensboro. The site and opponent haven’t been determined.
salisbury (50) ó B.Phifer 14, Shipp 13, N.Phifer 6, Ay. Holmes 5, As.Holmes 4, Wylie 3, Clindig 2, Rice 2, Heilig 1, Miller.
LEDFORD (33) ó Ballard 8, Pericozzi 6, Todd 5, Sules 5, Parks 3, Williams 2, W.Saintsing Cardwell 2, Christian.
Ledford 6 9 10 8 ó 33
Salisbury 5 10 10 16 ó 50
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