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Ledford girls come up just short

Ledford’s Leigh Ann Midkiff tries to power her way past Southeast Guilford’s Leslie Britt during the NewBridge Christmas Classic championship game Friday night at Ledford. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

WALLBURG | It’s not often that the Ledford girls’ basketball team gets done to them what it usually does to others.

But the Panthers wilted early in the fourth period under Southeast Guilford’s pressure defense, lost a lead, and suffered a 46-44 loss to the undefeated Falcons in the championship game of the NewBridge Bank Christmas Classic Basketball Tournament at Ledford Friday night.

Ledford held a 30-28 lead going into the final period, but then turned the ball over seven times in the next three minutes.

As a result, Southeast was able to build a 42-34 lead with just 1:32 left to play before the Panthers mounted a furious comeback bid that fell just a little short.

“We didn’t execute the way we would have liked against their press,” said Ledford coach John Ralls, whose team is 10-2 for the year. “We got a little bit rattled and did some things that we knew better that led to turnovers.”

The Falcons, meanwhile, did something they don’t normally do well — they hit free throws down the stretch.

Southeast canned 14 of 17 foul shots to keep the Panthers at bay in the final period.

“We were able to bump their cutter (Briana Grier) when she’s coming out of the lane and that sort of frustrated them a little bit,”

said Southeast coach Shawyn Newton, whose team is 13-0. “A couple times they weren’t able to rotate the ball back out to No. 43 (Emmalee Thomas), who hit some deep, deep 3’s on us.

“And then Kenya (Hailey) played a little tighter defense as the game went on. Once she figured out how to get around those screens it helped us out a lot.”

Ledford held its biggest lead at 29-22 late in the third period.

Still, in the final 90 seconds, Ledford was able to outscore the Falcons 10-4 to climb back into the game.

“We just never found our rhythm and what was going to be consistent and work for us,” said Ralls. “Blame me on that.

“But we were in it all the way and we had the lead for a bunch,” said Ralls. “But we turned it over and let them get up on us. Then we had to try and fight back.

“Next time, we’ve got to hang on to the lead.”

Thomas ended up with 15 points for the Panthers while Courtney Callicut added 11.

Hailey, a 6-foot-1 guard, scored 17 points for the Falcons while Kara Shutt added 12 points.

The all-tournament team included Ledford’s Thomas and Callicut, Southeast’s Kayla Upshaw and Hailey, and South Davidson’s Madison Sigmon. Southeast’s Shutt won the Don Palmer Most Valuable Player Award.