KFHS girls fend off Phoebus

Published 1:02 am Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wednesday’s Ironclad Conference tournament semifinal did not go quite as host and No. 1 seed King’s Fork High School had expected, but the Lady Bulldogs ended up with the desired result.

After defeating No. 4 Phoebus High School twice during the regular season, first by 27 points and then by 45, King’s Fork found the going more difficult this time as it advanced to the final and earned a regional berth with a 63-45 win.

“It’s playoff time,” Lady Bulldogs head coach Maurice Fofana said he told his players. “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done before.”

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

KF senior Khadedra Croker acknowledged early in the game, “It was kind of shaky.” She said rust was the issue for the Lady Bulldogs, since they had not played in six days.

Fofana agreed the lull was a factor but placed more emphasis on his team’s complacency.

“We were kind of out there, just going through the motions,” Fofana said.

The first quarter ended with King’s Fork only up by three, 19-16.

He said this period was important, awakening his players to the fact that the Lady Phantoms could keep up with them. He compared it to a child disregarding its parents’ warnings not to touch something hot.

“Until they get close so they can feel the heat, they don’t really believe you,” he said.

The Lady Bulldogs played like they believed in the second quarter, holding Phoebus without a point to take a 32-16 halftime lead.

But Fofana said this prompted more complacency in the second half because his players saw it as a sign that the game would go in the lopsided direction they originally expected.

“We just let them hang around,” he said of Phoebus.

The Lady Phantoms came out aggressively in the second half, and King’s Fork’s lead shrunk slightly by the end of the third quarter, 43-31.

Twice during the final eight minutes of the game, Phoebus came within nine points. But Fofana’s frustration with his team’s play did not shake his confidence they would win, illustrated by his admission he was not watching the scoreboard.

“I had no idea that they had got that close,” he said of the Lady Phantoms.

Croker provided points and defensive stops to keep her team up, recording yet another triple-double with 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocks.

Fofana said senior Brittany Alston was not her usual self, but still played well, doing “just enough to keep our team afloat.”

She finished the game with 12 assists.

“Amesha (Miller) played well coming off the bench,” Fofana said.

The freshman registered a double-double — 14 points and 11 boards.

“I just went with the flow,” Miller said. “I got a lot of help from (Khadedra). Her double team helped me,” giving her open shots.

Fofana took a moment to enjoy what the win meant for his team.

“It feels great to actually make it to the regionals,” he said. But he later added, “We didn’t expect anything less.”

The Lady Bulldogs were a confident 19-2 entering Wednesday’s contest and have made it to regionals four out of Fofana’s five years as coach of the team.

No. 3 Heritage High School defeated No. 6 Denbigh High School 49-48 on Tuesday and will play No. 2 Nansemond River High School (10-11) on Thursday evening, with a 5:30 p.m. tip-off at King’s Fork High School.

No. 1 King’s Fork (20-2) will play the winner of that semifinal on Friday, with the same start time and location.