Poised Southside marches to final, dispensing with Pocomoke, 59-49

Third-year Jaguars win with a balanced attack

Class 1A state girls basketball

High Schools

March 13, 2004|By Brendan Glaccum | Brendan Glaccum,SUN STAFF

Southside's girls basketball team looked nothing like a program in just its third year of existence after playing in its first state tournament.

After its 59-49 victory over Pocomoke in the first Class 1A state semifinal last night at UMBC, the 18th-ranked Jaguars acted as if they had been in this situation time and time again - few smiles and little outward expression of elation.

The Jaguars, who played a poised and controlled game for much of the second half, were poised and controlled after the win.

"It's hard to digest," Southside coach Dafne Lee-Blakney said. "For two years straight we've been denied. They had their thoughts and minds they weren't going to be denied again. Physically we were probably ready [in previous years], but mentally we weren't. The reason you didn't see a lot of celebration is because they know it's not finished."

Patrice Griffin led Southside (17-6) with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Sheree Ledbetter added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Jaguars, who will play Southern of Garrett County, a 61-50 winner over Loch Raven, in today's championship.

The Jaguars again got a balanced attack from their shallow lineup. Guard Tiffany Lewis added 13 and center Angela Speight chipped in 12 for the Jaguars, who played just seven players. Only four played 20 minutes or more.

Southside took the lead for good at 13-11 on a three-pointer from Griffin with 15 seconds to go in the first quarter. The Jaguars established command in the third by slowing the tempo and establishing their inside game and by containing Pocomoke's Andrea Reed with double teams.

"We had to stop Reed before she got started," Lee-Blakney said. "If they were going to beat us, it was the other players who were going to have to do it."

Reed, who averaged 17.8 points coming in, finished with 12 for last year's state runner-up, but scored two points in the second half before hitting four free throws in the final two minutes. By that point, the Jaguars had built their lead to as many as 17 points and had beaten the Warriors (23-4) down the floor and to the boards on several occasions.

Griffin scored eight in each half and eight of her team's 13 during a stretch between the end of the first half and beginning of the second, when the Jaguars extended a one-point lead to 10.

"I came to play to win and help my team to a state championship," Griffin said.

Said Ledbetter: "It feels great to be in the state championship. There's one more. I'm not going to celebrate until we win the championship. I'm feeling like we can't lose."

P-Nixon 7, Reed 12, Hall 4, Andrews 13, Mills 5, Roundtree 8. Totals 18 12-21 49. S-Lewis 13, Griffin 16, Ledbetter 12, Brown 6, Speight 12. Totals 21 13-25 59. Half: S, 23-20.

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