Socastee’s postseason run has finally come to an end.
Not quite an end that they would have liked, but Braves coach Ginger Ford was appreciative of her team’s effort against one of the top teams in the state.
Trailing by two points at the half, the Socastee girls basketball team couldn’t keep up with the Orangeburg-Wilkinson Bruins en route to a 43-29 loss in the Lower State semifinals Monday.
“I was proud of my team,” Ford said. “It was a two-point game at halftime and we played with a lot of heart. We knew that we were up against one of the better teams in the state. We knew it was going to be tough, but I think we finished our run strong. The run we had in the playoffs was one of our goals during the season. We were disappointed because we played such a great first half.
“I was proud of our season and we have a lot of kids coming back next year.”
The Braves played without senior Kirstin Zanardo, who suffered an ankle injury in Socastee’s 36-31 win over Stall last Thursday, and senior Blake Smith ended her high school career with an eight-point performance.
“She only got one rest in the game,” Ford said of Smith. “She played her heart out. It’s been a tough year for her, with her elbow injury. All you can do is play your hardest and she did. It was one of those games where, at halftime, I felt like we had a chance to win the game. But they had a full bench and we were missing two players. All of the emotion was spent with the team, but everyone was OK with the way we played.”
The Braves will lose outgoing seniors Smith, Zanardo, Heather Kyker and Jess Haugen. Ford believes her young squad can learn a lot from their playoff run.
“This is pretty far into the playoffs with a young team, and I think they can learn a lot from it,” Ford said.
Meanwhile, the Bruins switched to a different defense – which threw off Socastee. And Orangeburg-Wilkinson held the ball for the last three minutes, forcing the Braves to foul.
“[Orangeburg-Wilkinson] went to a very aggressive man-to-man defense and it was tough to shake them,” Ford said. “We were playing without Zanardo, our second leading scorer. She moves the ball a lot and we missed her. We had some chances in the third quarter to stay neck-and-neck. They came out with a different defense, and we had to adjust but we spent too much time getting settled. They held the ball for the last three minutes and we had to foul them to get possession of the ball back.”
The Bruins only had one field goal in the fourth quarter, as did the Braves. However, Orangeburg-Wilkinson went 5-for-11 from the charity stripe to secure the victory.
Despite losing several key pieces, Ford believes her Braves have a lot to learn, and will step up to the tall task.
“We played a lot of close games this season,” she said, “and looking back – in almost 90 percent of our losses – we had an opportunity to win the game in the last two minutes. We’ve been playing very tough defense all year, and I think we can keep that up next season. We just have to find different ways to score and learn the fundamentals of the game, but I’m very happy for what this team has accomplished.”