Lady Rams fall in title game

Published 11:27 am Tuesday, February 19, 2013

BELHAVEN – They couldn’t quite bring it all home.

The Ridgecroft girls basketball team capped a whirlwind week for the Lady Rams by playing their way into the Saturday finals of the Tarheel Independent Conference tournament at Pungo Christian Academy last weekend before they were finally subdued by favored Hobgood 39-22 in the championship game.

In the title tilt Katie Blowe led the Ridgecroft scoring with eight points, Mary-Joe Harrell and Tanja Sauermann had five apiece while Hennie Larabee and Amber Bracy had two each.

Larabee displayed the heart of a warrior to even play in the deciding game. She missed Friday’s semi-final after re-aggravating her ankle; the one that’s hampered her for part of this season.

Morgan Medford, who made the All-Tournament team, was the only double-figure scorer for Hobgood with 11.

Ridgecroft, the third-seed, opened the week-long affair with a ten point win, 48-38 over Terra Ceia Christian School on Wednesday.  They followed that up with a hard-fought semi-final upset of second-seed, NortheastAcademy, 41-38, on Friday. In that game the Rams shot 33 free throws and made 15 of them which was all NEA shot the entire game

While no one offered excuses, it seemed an uphill battle for the little team from Ahoskie all along.

“They played hard,” said not-too disappointed coach Susan Oliver. “I thought they were a little sluggish from last night (Friday’s semi-final); getting home at midnight and then turning around and playing early the next day.

“When you have six players compared to someone else that has two strings that has a lot to do with it,” she added. “They played well and they played their hearts out and that’s all I could ask.”

The game began as a pretty even affair between the Lady Raiders and Ridgecroft. Bracy hit a jump shot for the game’s first points before Hobgood answered. Blowe was fouled and sank two free throws for a 4-2 Ridgecroft lead before the Raiders scored the next five in a row to lead the contest, 7-4. Harrell broke the drought with a three-point equalizer from behind the arc and neither team scored for the rest of the first quarter.

Larabee entered the game in the second quarter and her lack of mobility prevented her from making cutting moves to the basket, or deftly getting around defenders.

Medford hit a long-range three-pointer from the top of the free throw circle for a 10-7 lead and the Raiders then began to put some distance between themselves and the Rams. Blowe scored again for Ridgecroft sandwiched between two Hobgood baskets and it was 14 -9 when Oliver called a time out to re-group. Each club scored one field goal apiece the next minute and a half up to the halftime buzzer and the teams went to the locker-room with the Raiders in front 16-11.

While it began snowing outside, it began raining jump shots and lay-ups inside as the third quarter began; and they were coming mostly from the team in blue-and-orange. Hobgood went on a 14-2 run to build a 17-point lead. Added to the offensive barrage was a tight man-to-man defense that forced Rams turnovers that the Raiders turned into more points.

From a 32-15 lead to begin the final quarter Hobgood played like the veteran team that they were that had accounted for three TIC titles in the last four years and went on to win convincingly. It was their 20th win of the year.

As her seniors exited the game, one-by-one, they each gave Hobgood coach Pam Tutor a hug. “’This one’s for you, Coach’ is what they said,” said a visibly emotional Tutor after the game. “I’ve had these girls since seventh grade.”

“You can’t do anything but admire Ridgecroft, and especially Larabee when you realize what she’s going thru,” said Tutor.

The news got better for Ridgecroft (11-14) as the weekend ended. The Rams made the post season. They are the number-12 seed in the NC Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs in Goldsboro this week and will play Wayne Country Day (10-12) tonight (Tuesday). The winner meets Hobgood, the 4-seed, which received a bye.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS: Northeast Academy’s Ivey Little and Hannah Roy made the TIC All-Conference team; helping the Lady Eagles to a 7-3 league mark. The Lawrence Academy boys junior varsity team played in the TIC jayvee championship game. The Warriors fell 23-17 to Terra Ceia Christian School in the title contest. Jarrett Harrell had six points for LAW while Bryant Godwin, Drew Williams and Wyatt Corbett had three apiece. Earlier Lawrence beat Hobgood’s jayvee in the semi-finals.