CLOVER — The struggles of a young team showed for the Nation Ford Lady Falcons as they lost all three games they played at the Clover Optimist Classic.
Nation Ford fell to 0-3 after falling to Chester, Orangeburg-Wilkinson and Newberry in the holiday weekend tournament.
Head coach Mike Smith blamed himself for the loss. “I am certainly disappointed being 0-3,” he said. “But I see glimpses and sparks of what we can be.”
The Lady Falcons fell to Chester 42-39, despite rallying in the second half to make a game of it.
Senior Taylor Yarborough led Nation Ford with 12 points against Chester. The game for Nation Ford was close for the most part as Chester led 28-21 at the half, but the Lady Cyclones held off a rally in the fourth quarter.
Nation Ford played better in its game against Newberry. Down 23-15 at the half, the Lady Falcons outscored Newberry 17-15 in the third quarter as eighth-grader Brooklyn Bailey scored five of her 10 points in the game to lead the Nation Ford charge.
The Lady Falcons pulled to 34-32 late in the third, but Newberry scored the last four points of the quarter.
Despite the effort, Nation Ford still trailed 38-32 entering the fourth quarter. However, that is where things went bad for the Lady Falcons.
Newberry went to a half-court press and Nation Ford struggled to get the ball over midcourt. The Lady Falcons also shot 24 percent from the field in the final quarter (5-21). The team also struggled at the foul line hitting less than 50 percent of its free throws.
Both Bailey and Yarborough scored 10 points for Nation Ford, but Yarborough fouled out with a little less than 90 seconds to go as Newberry won 55-44.
Although it wasn’t the start to the season he wanted, Smith said he feels like this team is further ahead this year than last year’s team was at the same point.
“We played strong with more energy and enthusiasm,” Smith said. “We got good shots but didn’t make a lot.”
Nation Ford will open the regular season this week at Hunter Huss in Gastonia and Marvin Ridge in Waxhaw, N.C. Their first home game is Dec. 10 against Marvin Ridge.