LUMBERTON – With 30 seconds left in the first round of girls’ 1A playoffs, Lumberton looked to overcome a 17-point deficit it faced against French Camp earlier in the game.
The Lady Panthers had a chance to cut the game to one possession. Instead, Lumberton missed on the opportunity as they missed a wide-open layup and resulted in a 36-31 loss. Despite the late comeback, the missed layup was an illustration of the Lady Panthers’ inconsistent offense in the game.
“We had a wide-open layup and missed that layup,” Lumberton coach Portland Brown said. “That’s what killed us at the end. We missed free throws at the end, and it is what it is.”
Lumberton’s shooting problem helped French Camp jump out to a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The Lady Panthers did not score their first bucket until four minutes into the second quarter.
“It was a slow, slow, slow start,” Brown said. “We couldn’t make a basket. We couldn’t get things together. I believe they were nervous. We just couldn’t get anything going. They were making their baskets, and we weren’t.”
The Lady Panthers managed to find some life near the end of the first half as they went on a 10-3 run to narrow French Camps lead to 22-10 at the half.
French Camp built its lead to 31-15 in the fourth quarter; however, Lumberton made the adjustment to push the pace and force plays through the fast break.
“(I told them at the half) don’t stop and don’t give up,” Brown said. “We are still in the game. We just have to knock down some shots.
“(Our adjustment) was pushing and pressuring the ball, which we probably should have started out with, but we didn’t. It was just keeping pressure on the ball.”
Lumberton pulled itself back into the game with a 14-0 run and pulled the game to 33-29 with 30 seconds left, leading to this critically missed layup.
“(I credit) our guards and defense,” Brown said. “They stayed in it. They kept pressuring the guards and started getting layups. We had easy shots and made some, but when we needed it, we didn’t get it.”
The late layup was not a fully deciding factor as the Lady Panthers went 5-for-20 from the free-throw line.
Leading Lumberton was Kelsey Joseph, who scored 14 points, T’Anna Edwards, who totaled 10 points and Kirsten Joseph, who recorded five points.
Lumberton finishes the season 5-7 in Brown’s first year with the program. Brown believes that the season outcome could have been different if the program wasn’t limited in games as a result of COVID-19 protocols throughout the season.
“The big adjustment was the girls getting to know me, and I’m getting to know them and us getting on the same page,” Brown said. “It was just trying to get them to inhale everything I want them to learn. It’s going to take a while.
We have high hopes. We don’t lose anyone, and we have two seniors next year.”