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Strong surge from UMS too much for Greensboro

For the second consecutive year, Greensboro picked a very bad time to play a very bad game.

The Lady Raiders’ usual stout defense struggled in the second quarter of the Regional semifinal against UMS-Wright Thursday, giving up 23 points as the Lady Bulldogs opened up a 13-point halftime lead and ran away with a 68-41 victory.

The loss ended the Lady Raiders’ season at the same point as the 2005 season and in similar fashion. Demopolis cruised past Greensboro 52-28 in last year’s Regional semis.

“I really can’t put my finger on it,” head coach Frances Dunn said after Thursday’s defeat. “It’s a repeat of last year. Once we got on the court, all the things we’d worked on just left.”

Despite turning the ball over seven times to UMS-Wright’s none in the first quarter, the Lady Raiders ended the period only down four after baskets by Shondrille Tabb, Jacques Winn, and Vanessa Rhodes in a 90-second span trimmed a 10-2 lead to 12-8.

But an offensive rebound of a missed free throw helped UMS-Wright score five points in the first 17 seconds of the second quarter, stretching the lead to 17-8, and the Lady Bulldogs never looked back. Greensboro came within 26-22 on a Tabb basket with 2:37 to play in the period, but UMS closed the half on a 9-0 run for a commanding 35-22 halftime edge.

The Lady Raiders would not come within single digits of the state’s sixth-ranked team again. Keiara Long’s basket with 1:15 to play in the third quarter finally snapped a 14-2 run for UMS-Wright, but by then the Bulldog lead had grown to 49-26. UMS led 51-31 at the end of the quarter and extended the lead to 27 at game’s end as Greensboro posted an 18.2 shooting percentage (6-for-33) in the second half.

“We got caught not getting back on defense. We lagged behind. We couldn’t get the ball where we wanted it go on offense,” Dunn explained afterwards. “Our post players weren’t getting set, we had lots of turnovers … we just didn’t score enough.”

Tabb was the only Lady Raider to finish in double figures, with 11 points. She was followed by Kara Johnson with 9, Winn with 7, Vanessa Rhodes with 6, Brittany Skipper with 4, and Sabrina Hurns and Long with 2 points each.

Despite the disappointing ending, Dunn was more than happy with the team’s season as a whole. The Lady Raiders claimed their first victories over Demopolis in Dunn’s tenure, the Hale County tournament title, and the 4A Area 6 title. Greensboro loses only two seniors (Winn and Pam Hogan) and returns all five starters as they move to 3A next season.

“We’ll just continue working,” Dunn said. “We played really hard all season. We played as a team. We just didn’t play well today.”