WAVERLY – It wasn’t the end Minford coach Scott Caudill and the Lady Falcons were hoping for Saturday afternoon at the old Waverly High School. After a hard fought game, the Lady Falcons came up a little shy of the Albany Alexander Lady Spartans in the OHSAA Division III District Semi-final round.
Minford ran out of time, and was forced to foul to stop the clock in the last minutes of the game, but were unable to erase the Albany Alexander lead. After the Lady Spartans began to sink free throws, the Lady Falcons became a victim of circumstances, falling to the number one seeded Albany Alexander 53-42.
“Alexander, they got up in us and guarded us,” Caudill said. “They’re a very physical team, and they made their runs, and we made our runs, but they had more shots fall than we did. That’s it, it came down to a tight ballgame at the end, and whoever makes the most runs and can withstand them wins.”
After the first quarter, the Lady Falcons were battling the Lady Spartans to a near dead heat. Albany Alexander held a three-point lead after the first quarter, 12-9.
In the second quarter Minford would make a run on the number one seeded Albany Alexander. With just a few seconds shy of two minutes left in the second quarter, the Lady Falcons would take their first lead of the game, 17-16, after an Ashley Blankenship two-point field goal.
Minford would increase their lead another two points by halftime, as they headed into the locker room with momentum on their side, and a three-point lead, 21-18.
Albany Alexander came out for the third quarter on fire. The Lady Spartans started the period with a 5-0 run to regain their lead 23-21.
Minford was unable to answer the Albany Alexander scores in the early moments of the third quarter.
“They came out in the third quarter and started hitting threes, and had us on our heels,” Caudill said. “We had to change up what we do.”
Caudill’s squad would battle back and keep the score to a three possession game, 34-28, by the end of the quarter.
“We battled back and hit a few threes, and that was it,” Caudill said. “Our girls played hard, and their girls played hard, and that’s what tournament basketball is about. We just came up with the short end of the stick.”
The Lady Falcons played the fourth with a lot of heart, refusing to give up, and continued to play like they just needed one score to get back into the game.
Albany Alexander was able to keep Minford at a distance, preventing them from taking the much coveted lead.
With time running out in the fourth quarter, the Lady Falcons were forced to foul the Lady Spartans to stop the clock. Albany Alexander expanded their lead to eventually take a 53-42 lead as time expired on Minford.
“They played with heart,” Caudill said about his squad. “Bottom line is they just came out and hit some shots, and we didn’t knock shots down in the fourth quarter. They’re a tough team, and I knew it was going to be a tight game and it was, and unfortunately somebody has to lose.”
Emma Shepherd and Ali Hammond played their final game as members of the Lady Falcons’ basketball team. The two seniors were essential parts of the success Minford had this season.
“It’s the worst part about coaching, watching your seniors play their last game,” Caudill said. “Seeing these girls cry in the locker room, Ali and Emma are tremendous, and very bright, well mannered kids. I’ve been blessed to coach them. I’ve been blessed.”
Caudill added he hoped his two seniors made a lot of fond memories this year on the team, his first as head coach.
“They’ve given me a lot of great memories,” Caudill said. “You know, you play sports to learn things, and you know have experiences like this situation, and to mold your life and who you are, your character. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ali Hammond and Emma Shepherd are going to be successful, no doubt in my mind.”
The Lady Falcons finish their season with a 16-7 record, although they were all hoping for a few more wins.
“You don’t get into this and ever like to lose,” Caudill said. “You just never like to lose. This loss, this day will be very hard for me to swallow, because I still feel like we had the better team. Bottom line is I have to go to work starting tomorrow.”
Albany Alexander – L. Richardson 4-13-21, R. Richardson 4-4-13, Mace 2-4-8, Hydnell 1-2-5, Whitney 0-2-2, Mohler 0-2-2, Meeks 0-2-2
Minford – Grasso 6-2-17, Daniels 4-4-12, Risner 1-2-5, Puckett 1-1-3, Blankenship 1-1-3, Hammond 1-0-2
Three-point field goals – Albany Alexander 4 (L. Richardson 2, Hydnell, R. Richardson) Minford 4 (Grasso 3, Risner)
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.