Ponce De Leon set for 1A title game Friday

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 11:12 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -The Ponce De Leon girl’s basketball team is set to take a shot Friday at the 1A State Championship!

Coach Brad Alford and his team playing their way into that title game with a win over Port St. Joe in the state semifinal game Wednesday night down in Bradenton. The Pirates with a big second quarter able to build a five point lead by the half. And then they were able to stretch that lead to 14 by the end, winning 52-48. Lily Brooks leading the way with 25 points, Carmen Jones had 8, Cadence Alford had 6. So now Ponce De Leon poised to take a shot at the program’s 4th girl’s state championship, in a game Friday night against Hawthorne. The previous three PDL titles coming in 1989, 2000 and 2010!

Early Thursday afternoon I spoke with coach Alford about how long they all celebrated the win before looking ahead to what’s next.

“You know we let them enjoy it for the night.” coach Alford said. “But in the same breath us coaches were getting together and coming up with a game plan. It’s business as usual when we get up the next day. So we try to take that businesslike approach with each day. And so far that’s worked out good for us. And our girls have been very mature in handling it.”

Getting to this title game is meaningful enough, but getting to the title game in this crazy season affected so adversely by COVID, well that just makes it an even greater accomplishment.

“I mean we started about two or three games into the season and had a two week layoff because our team got quarantined.” coach Alford told me. “And so it has, it’s been kind of a roller coaster ride. Again the girl’s handled it well. It’s like we told them, it’s like in a game there’s going to be bad calls at times and you’ve just got to roll with it. So that’s what we’ve had to do with the distractions, as far having to sit down and not play for two weeks at a time. And again every day they came back ready to go to work and outwork yesterday.”

And to cap it all with the title would also be a great gift to the incredible group of fans the team has, the coach says. A surprisingly large and very loyal group, despite Ponce De Leon being such a small school within a relatively small community.

“You would be surprised, we have an unbelievable following.” says the coach. “And we’ve got what we call the Captain’s Crew, want to give a shout out to them. And that’s a large part of our student body. And they travel with us and have really celebrated our success and really just took on ownership. Because we really are one family, one community and it is an awesome place to play and to coach.”

That championship game against Hawthorne Friday night set for 7 eastern time. We’ll have the highlights in our late news.

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