Determined Largo Girls Basketball Excited for State Semifinal

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If you want to find the motivation for this season's Largo's girls basketball team, all you have to do is look at the MPSSAA playoff brackets from the past two years. Both seasons ended with Largo losing in the 2A South regional final game, just one step short of making the final four.

This year, the Lions played with purpose and the goal of reaching the final four. The team finished the regular season 15-5 and earned the #1 seed in its section.

"Us earning a #1 seed is what I push my players to achieve every year," head coach Ayana Ball-Ward said. "I knew that we would be neck and neck with Gwynn Park for that top seed this season. It's always good to have home court advantage going into the playoffs."

The Lions cashed in on that advantage, dispatching Crossland and Gwynn Park by double digit margins in its first two playoff games.

That placed Largo back in the regional final. The Lions flipped the script from the past two seasons, defeating Westlake 64-50 to win the 2A South regional championship.

"The last two years has definitely affected this team," Ball-Ward said. "It feels great to get over that hump and now myself and my coaching staff have to get them over the next hurdle, which is two state games."

Largo's next test will be Baltimore County powerhouse New Town. New Town brings a lot of pedigree to the court, having reached the 1A state final just two years ago, and making five straight region finals.

Largo will look to counter this by staying true to its identity, a lot of which is based around its depth. The Lions have so many quality players that it's a struggle for Ball-Ward to name standouts from her team. Simply put, the team has been led by a multitude of different players at different points this season.

"Every game it's been someone different. Chance Graham has been the most consistent," Ball-Ward said. "As the season has progressed, all of the players have picked up their game in different ways which has contributed to our team success."

While Largo is heading into the final four with the goal of winning the championship, there is a sense of pride within the team for having reached this point. The team is an older bunch, featuring six seniors, five juniors, and just two sophomores. The group has played together for the past three or four years, making their trip to Towson University on Friday that much more special.

For Ball-Ward, it's a great opportunity for the Lions to show how far they've come, and to play on one of the biggest stages a high school basketball player can experience.

"I have a special group of girls that have really grown within the game of basketball," Ball-Ward said. "I am extremely proud and happy for them. I'm excited to see what they will do this Friday."
March 8th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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