The end of the line: Ross reflects on Lady Cavs' season
The East Rutherford Lady Cavaliers made the bus trip to Greensboro on Tuesday with no shortage of confidence. Riding a 22-game winning streak to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Western Region semifinals can have that type of effect on a basketball team.
However, the Lady Cavaliers ran into an experienced, talented team from Franklin that shocked East Rutherford, winning their Tuesday matchup, 80-76.
The Lady Cavs finished the season 23-3.
"A lot of people thought I was cocky about it, but at the start of the season I really thought we could run the table," East Rutherford head coach Larry Ross said. "I thought this team was destined to play for a state championship this year and Rachel (Camp) and my seniors would go out with a bang."
Camp did all she could to win Tuesday's game for East Rutherford scoring 42 points, a new record for scoring in a 2A regional round.
"Rachel was phenomenal all night," Ross said.
Camp scored 17 in the first half as the Lady Cavs went into the locker room at halftime with a 33-32 lead.
"We played well to start with and it just kept going back and forth," Ross said. "We went into halftime up one when I thought we should be up 10.
"We just weren't very good defensively in the first half. They got a lot of rebounds and second-chance points."
Franklin jumped ahead early in the third quarter before Camp took over with 18 points in the frame to put East Rutherford up 59-52 at the start of the fourth quarter.
East held a lead midway through the fourth quarter as the Lady Panthers were forced to begin fouling.
"We pretty much had it in hand," Ross said.
That was when the Lady Cavs ran into trouble at the free throw line shooting just 5-of-13 from the charity stripe in the final period.
"That was the difference in the game right there. If we make those shots, we win this game," Ross said. "They were the desperate team before we started missing those free throws."
Camp exited the game with 2:23 left after falling hard to the floor on a drive. She came back just moments later but couldn't rally her team to the win.
"They were physical with her all night," Ross said. "She came back in and was still able to score, but she just wasn't the same player as before."
After the loss, Ross consoled his team in the locker room and told them to be proud of their remarkable season.
"They left it on floor and I told them to keep their heads up," Ross said. "We had a great season, made a great run at it and just lost a game we should have won. We beat them in every phase of the game except at the free throw line."
Now the varsity boys will play their regional semifinal Thursday night against North Rowan with the Lady Cavaliers in the stands.
"The boys team did the same for us and we look forward to cheering them on," Ross said.
Thursday's tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. at UNC-Greensboro's Fleming Gym.