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Newberry Converts 23 Points On Free Throws To Defeat Ridgeland-Hardeeville 57-50 To Win School’s First Ever Girl’s AAA Basketball Title

Newberry Converts 23 Points On Free Throws To Defeat Ridgeland-Hardeeville 57-50 To Win School’s First Ever Girl’s AAA Basketball Title
By Billy G. Baker

Columbia—Making 18 of 24 free throws in the first half gave Newberry High (26-4) a solid 34-18 lead at the half, and playing in honor of hospitalized teammate Rayanna Davis, recently injured in a car accident and in the hospital,  the Lady Bulldogs survived a fourth quarter rally by Ridgeland-Hardeeville (18-4) to win the AAA girl’s basketball title, 57-50 at the USC Colonial Center.  

The win was the first state championship for a girl’s basketball team at Newberry High. The Lady Bulldogs placed Davis’ jersey in a chair on their bench and she had helped lead the team all season with 16 points per game average.

“In the fourth quarter I started thinking back to last year against Bishop England and we told our team (during time-out) to be strong and we worked against their press all week long,” said Newberry head coach Melissa Miller-Mendenhall. “We stress making free throws too and every day in practice if we do not make at least 70 per cent in practice we have to run. Because we lost by one point last year we work extra hard on free throws.

“This win means a lot because it is the first girl’s state basketball title in school history at Newberry High,” said Coach Miller-Mendenhall. “This game was all for Rayanna (Davis) and we had to finish it for her. She got through the third round against Pendleton before her accident so it was real important to win this game for her.”

Newberry started two senior guards in Reghan Miller and Lindsey Ruff, along with senior forward  Kelsey Felks. “We will miss all of our seniors because they gave us great leadership and play all season,” said Coach Miller-Mendenhall.

Newberry led 17-11 after the first period and pushed ahead 34-18 at the break behind Felk’s 9 first half points along with 8 from Diamond Davis. The score was actually tied at 11 with 4:44 to go in the first period. The Lady Bulldogs out-scored R-H 23-7 from that point to the half-time buzzer as R-H dug themselves into a deep hole early.

Some attending this game might feel that the whistle chart evaluation of fouls called was totally out of balance with Newberry being called for 14 fouls and Ridgeland-Hardeeville getting whistled 22 times and two of the best players fouled out. Newberry made 23 of 32 free throw opportunities while the Lady Jaquars were 10 of 16 from the charity stripe.

“I certainly pointed this out to the officials, especially in the first half,” said Ridgeland-Hardeeville head coach Frederick Toomer. “It was a major difference in the outcome of the game for sure.

“The turnovers hurt us a lot but we never gave up and we battled back in the fourth quarter,” said Coach Toomer. “We spent the entire third quarter trying to get refocused with two girls having four fouls at the half and another had three. The foul issues changed our strategy a bit. We just let it go in the fourth period and that is when we battled back.”

Coach Toomer said the team will miss seniors Jamee Mack, Shanteria Brown and Jada Valdez. RH was led in scoring by Quaajia Drayton with 17 points and Mack chipped in with 13 along with Marlaysia Westbrook who had 8. Timothea Green led RH with 8 rebounds. 

R-H also was hurt by turnovers making 27 total but Newberry made 37 miscues as the Lady Jaquars converted 20 points off steals near the basket during the game. Newberry enjoyed a height advantage in the game as well out-rebounding R-H 46 to 31. 

Ridgeland-Hardeeville committed 15 fouls in the first half and Jamee Mack and Timothea Green each had four at the break. The game was a free wheeling affair with both teams running up and down the court out of control at times. In the first half Newberry made 8 of 23 shots while RH was 7 of 28.

For the game Newberry made 17 of 43 shots from the field while Ridgeland-Hardeeville was 19 of 60.
The leading scorers for Newberry were Davis with 18, Felks had 13 and Zacharia Epps contributed 12.

Newberry                       17 17 8 15—57
Ridgeland-Hardeeville     11  7 10 22—50
Scoring: Newberry: Felks 13, Davis 18, Miller 5, Ruff 9, Epps 12,
Ridgeland-Hardeeville: Westbrook 8, Singletary 6, Mack 13, Drayton 17, Green 4, Mikell 2 

© 2017 High School Sports Report

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