Lady Bulldogs run ends against Norview in Region 5B semifinal

Published 7:12 am Thursday, February 22, 2024

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Photo and story by: Matthew Hatfield

Just two days after pulling off an upset of Suffolk rival Nansemond River in the opening round of the Region 5B Tournament, the King’s Fork Lady Bulldogs had an opportunity to pull another surprise against perennial playoff contender Norview in the semifinals held at Norfolk State’s Echols Hall on Feb. 21.

Through two quarters, King’s Fork stood toe-to-toe with the third-seeded Pilots, only trailing 22-21 at the half.  However, Norview used a 17-9 third quarter spurt and eventually got enough separation to hold on for a 52-44 win over King’s Fork that secured their third straight VHSL Class 5 State Tournament berth.

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“It’s still hard, especially when you run a program that’s used to the win, win, win,” said King’s Fork head girls basketball coach Maurice Fofana following his team’s loss that concluded their season at 13-10 overall.  “This year was a little different.  We had a lot of young kids, first-time starters and only had three seniors.  Only one started the last couple years.”

Imani Clemons led the way for King’s Fork with 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.  Her jumper with 36 seconds to go in regulation cut the Norview lead down to just six at 50-44.  A King’s Fork turnover with 11 seconds to go, their 24th of the night, kept them from getting any closer.

The defeat ended a run of five straight seasons of qualifying for the State Playoffs for King’s Fork.

“Turnovers got us and I had no idea we had that many until after the game,” remarked Fofana.  “I can’t ask for more and am super proud of my kids.  They fought hard and we had some chances there at the end.”

While Norview doubled up King’s Fork 32-16 in the points in the paint category, King’s Fork outscored them by 12 from behind the three-point line (15-3).  They also out-rebounded the Pilots 42-36 for the contest.

King’s Fork will head into the off-season quite optimistic about what the future holds.

“Kids move in and kids move out, but I’m really excited because we return a lot of young players that have experience, including our leading scorer in Rylie Hite.  I really like the direction our program is going.”